Flashing light two weeks before the start of the Tour de France for Egan Bernal: the Colombian, winner of the Tour last year, abandoned the Dauphiné on Saturday due to back pain.
Seventh in the Dauphiné standings after three stages, Bernal gave up continuing the race which started again from Ugine (Savoie). He skipped the last two stages, very mountainous, as a precaution according to his Welsh teammate Geraint Thomas.
The leader of the Ineos team has faltered during the two previous stages of the Dauphiné. He was overwhelmed in the sprints each time he arrived at altitude, at the Col de Porte (Isère) on Thursday then in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville (Savoie), the next day when he could not do better than fourteenth on the stage. .
Since the beginning of August and the resumption of competitions after the long stoppage due to the pandemic, Bernal has participated in three stage races, winning a big block of work: the Route d'Occitanie, which he won hands down. , the Tour de l'Ain, which ended for him with a second place behind the Slovenian Primoz Roglic, the Dauphiné in which he had to endure Roglic's law again in the first stages.
"A little back pain"
“He has a little back pain,” explained Geraint Thomas, who preceded him on the Tour's record, on the starting area, before calming things down: “I don't think it's a major problem, it's worth better to be careful ”.
“He had two races before the Dauphiné, he had what he needed,” added Thomas. "It's about making sure that everything is 100% and that there are no problems."
The fact remains that the abandonment of the young Colombian (23 years old) represents a warning signal, exactly two weeks before the start of the Tour 2020 in Nice. Especially for a team which had been dominant in the Tour until then but this year faced the rise of Dutch Jumbo and her leader Roglic.
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VIDEO. Tour de France: Colombians exult on the Champs-Elysées after Bernal's victory
In view of the difficulties of the other alleged leaders of the team, Bernal emerges as the indisputable number one of the team. The Briton Chris Froome, seriously injured last year, seeks to regain his level and runs after his selection. Geraint Thomas, who is evolving in the background in this Dauphiné, has everything to gain strength but the profile of the next Tour, ultra-mountainous, is far from favoring it.