Reigning champion Egan Bernal has withdrawn from the Tour de France ahead of stage 17 after falling well out of contention.

The Team INEOS rider cracked in Sunday's stage 15 on the Grand Colombier to drop from third to 13th and lost more time on yellow jersey holder Primoz Roglic on Tuesday.

Bernal, who became the youngest winner of the Tour since World War II when triumphing last year, indicated he intended to see out the final four competitive stages.

However, on the morning of Wednesday's queen stage to Col de la Loze, INEOS announced the Colombian will now save himself for other upcoming races.

Team principal Dave Brailsford said in a statement: "We have taken this decision with Egan's best interests at heart. 

"Egan is a true champion who loves to race, but he is also a young rider, with many Tours ahead of him and at this point, on balance, we feel it is wiser for him to stop racing."

Bernal slipped to 16th in the standings on Tuesday, just over 19 minutes off the lead, and he feels the decision to abandon the Tour is the right choice.

"This is obviously not how I wanted my Tour de France to end, but I agree that it is the right decision for me in the circumstances," he said.

"I have the greatest respect for this race and I am already looking forward to coming back in the years ahead."

Tadej Pogacar remains within 40 seconds of leader and compatriot Roglic heading into stage 17, with Rigoberto Uran one minute and 34 seconds behind in third.

Tadej Pogacar will not allow sentiment to hold him back as he seeks to secure Tour de France glory at the expense of friend and compatriot Primoz Roglic.

The Slovenian duo are leading the way this year with Roglic in yellow, 40 seconds ahead of Pogacar, who has the honour of the young rider's white jersey after winning stage 15.

With Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team setting a blistering pace across many of the stages so far, he looks best placed to take the title from Egan Bernal after the Team INEOS rider cracked on Sunday to fall well off the pace.

But 21-year-old Pogacar, who looks up to the man nine years his senior, is dreaming of standing atop the podium in Paris himself.

"We [he and Roglic] have a good relationship, but on the road we all want to win every time because this is cycling, this is sport and everyone wants to win," the UAE Team Emirates rider said.

"So, yes, on the road we respect each other. I look up to him, he's a really strong guy, a good rider.

"I have a lot of respect for him, but if I can win I will take the opportunity. 

"Jumbo-Visma is the strongest team this year probably, especially this Tour, but we also have a strong team. We are confident and if we can take some time that would be perfect.

"The battle for yellow is not finished, but I cannot tell you exactly how we are going to fight for it because then there's no surprise."

Speaking during the Tour's second rest day, Pogacar was asked if he could have envisaged finding himself in this position.

"No, not really," he replied. "Before the start of the Tour I was confident in my shape, I knew that I was prepared.

"But to be here on the second rest day with two stages and second in the GC [general classification] with the white jersey, it's a little bit hard to believe if someone would have said that to me.

"But now we are here and we will fight to the end."

Tadej Pogacar claimed victory on stage 15 of the Tour de France to close the gap on overall leader Primoz Roglic, as Egan Bernal's hopes of back-to-back titles came to an end.

Team Emirates rider Pogacar held off Roglic in a sprint finish on the Grand Colombier to take the win and 10 bonus seconds on the line, cutting the deficit in the general classification to 40 seconds.

Pogacar made his dash for the line with 100 metres to go and had the energy to pip yellow jersey holder Roglic, settling up a likely all-Slovenian shoot-out for the Tour title.

Defending champion Bernal will not be in the mix after the Team INEOS rider struggled to maintain the relentless pace set by Jumbo-Visma.

He began the day in third, 59 seconds off the pace, but is now out of contention in 13th after losing over seven minutes on the 17km climb to the summit.

A group of 12 riders entered the final kilometre together, with Trek–Segafredo's Richie Porte taking third place, five seconds behind the pacesetters.

Rigoberto Uran moved up to third in the general classification standings, one minute and 34 seconds behind Roglic, after finishing ninth on a gruelling stage 15.

POGACAR: MAYBE PRIMOZ WILL CRACK

Pogacar will not give up on claiming the yellow jersey without a fight, with this his second stage victory, but the fearless Slovenian acknowledged it will be incredibly difficult catching compatriot Roglic.

"Jumbo-Visma set a really high pace all day and it made it a really difficult stage so I was just waiting for the sprint at the end and I'm so happy to win again," Pogacar said.

"The plan is to win the Tour de France. Primoz Roglic seems unstoppable but today Bernal cracked and maybe one day myself or Primoz will crack - there are still a lot of opportunities ahead."

STAGE RESULT 

1. Tadej Pogacar (Team Emirates) 4:34:13
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 4:34:13
3. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) 0:05
4. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +0:08
5. Enric Mas (Movistar) +0:15

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 65:37:07
2. Tadej Pogacar (Team Emirates) +0:40
3. Rigoberto Uran (Pro Cycling) +1:34

Points Classification

1. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 269 points
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 224
3. Matteo Trentin (CCC) 189

King of the Mountains

1. Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) 36
2. Tadej Pogacar (Team Emirates) 34
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 33

WHAT'S NEXT?

After a rest day on Monday, week three begins with a 164km route to Villard-de-Lans, taking in narrow roads, difficult climbs and gorges. It contains five categorised climbs, culminating in the finish atop Villard-de-Lans.

Egan Bernal will be managing a back injury on the Tour de France and is wary of the threat posed by Primoz Roglic and his Jumbo-Visma team.

Ahead of his defence of the yellow jersey, Bernal appeared to be in good form with a victory at La Route d'Occitanie and a runner-up finish in the Tour de l'Ain.

However, Team INEOS' sole lead rider for the Grand Tour, with former champions Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas left out of the line, withdrew from the Criterium du Dauphine with a back problem.

Bernal acknowledged the issue was persisting on the eve of the Grand Depart in Nice on Saturday, but he is hopeful of being in contention in the final week.

"I feel a little bit of pain in the back, to be honest. I'm much better than I was in the Dauphine. In the Dauphine it was really bad, the pain," said Bernal.

"But these days I'm feeling much better and I hope during the whole Tour to be working hard and trying to recover, especially for the last week."

Alongside Bernal, Roglic is one of the leading contenders going into the rescheduled Tour despite a crash in the Dauphine.

The Slovenian beat Bernal at the Tour de l'Ain and has not finished outside the top four in any of the 11 stage races he has completed since April 2018, winning eight of them.

Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team-mate Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro d'Italia winner, is also among the favourites, having placed in the top two in each of his previous three Grand Tour finishes, but he has not completed one since the 2018 Tour.

"I think they [Jumbo-Visma] are really something. For sure they will be one of the favourites to win the race," said Bernal.

"Primoz, in the past races, he was the strongest guy and he was flying. I think they will be one of the favourites and we need to be really careful with him and also Tom Dumoulin, who was getting better in the last races.

"That's something good for the race to have another strong team, a really, really strong team to fight.

"It can be good for us because they will need to take some responsibility in the race."

Tour de France favourite Primoz Roglic insists he is "feeling fine" ahead of the rescheduled event, which has been given the green light to begin on Saturday.

Roglic had been in supreme form prior to a heavy fall at the Criterium du Dauphine on August 15 that left his participation in cycling's biggest event hanging in the balance.

However, the Vuelta champion - who has ex-Giro d'Italia winner Tom Dumoulin in support on the Jumbo-Visma team - has made a full recovery and will rival last year's winner Egan Bernal for the yellow jersey 

"I feel fine. I'm here at the Tour start now, so that's good news," the Jumbo-Visma rider said at a news conference on Thursday. 

"It's been a different plan - we didn't expect this complicated start with the crash and it took some time to restart and do the things I wanted to but in the last days I managed it."

The event is going ahead nearly two months later than usual owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

It starts in Nice this weekend before crisscrossing France over the next few weeks.

Doubts had been raised over whether the Tour will even start, never mind make it all the way to Paris on September 20, with COVID-19 continuing to spread across the country.

But, speaking on Thursday, France's Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer insisted the competition is "a sign that we can continue to live, and the resilience of our society."

That could yet change, though, with the Lotto-Soudal team announcing two days before the start date that two of their support staff had tested "non-negative" for coronavirus.

And Dumoulin, who was runner-up in his last Tour appearance, admits it is a case of taking the race on a day-by-day basis.

"At the moment it doesn't look good with some of the numbers around Nice and France but at the moment we are just in our own bubble," the Dutchman said.

"We don't have a strategic plan to be in the lead in case the race stops after one and a half weeks.

"The winner after one and a half weeks isn't the real winner of the Tour de France. That's not a Tour de France, that's a 10-day race. 

"It's a completely different race. We're preparing for a Grand Tour and we want to win the Tour de France."

This year's Tour could be the most open in a long time, with Team INEOS rider Bernal considered by some the man to beat after becoming the youngest winner of the yellow jersey in over a century when he triumphed last year.

Former winners Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas have been left behind but Bernal looks in good stead, even if he pulled out of the Dauphine early because of a back issue.

Elsewhere, Thibaut Pinot of Team Groupama is France's best hope of a first winner in 34 years and is determined to make the most of a favourable route.

"Last year was a huge disappointment but I will get over it," he said of the thigh injury that curtailed his 2019 Tour. 

"I've realised that I could aim extremely high. That was the worst disappointment of my career. 

"I had the best form I've ever had in my career. To lose all of that in an instant was too much to bear."

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton became the first joint-winners of the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year on Monday.

Messi and Hamilton were level on votes made by former sports legends who are members of the Laureus Academy.

Argentina international Messi inspired Barca to a 26th LaLiga title last season with 36 goals in 34 appearances, form that earned him a record sixth Ballon d'Or.

Mercedes driver Hamilton was crowned F1 world champion for the sixth time in 2019, putting him second only to Michael Schumacher on the all-time list.

Hamilton was in Berlin to collect his award in person, while Messi – the first individual from a team sport to claim the prize – sent a video message.

"I would like to thank the Academy for giving me this recognition. The truth is that this is a very important and special award," said Messi.

"I am honoured to be the first to win this award being a sportsperson coming from a team sport and not an individual sport, which is usually the case. Thank you very much.

"For me it's a huge delight to be part of this award and the first team player to receive it. Of course, I would like to thank my team-mates, my family and the fans who support me. Thanks to them this kind of individual recognition is possible."

The pair collected more votes than fellow contenders Rafael Nadal, Marc Marquez, Tiger Woods and Eliud Kipchoge. 

Gymnast Simone Biles was named Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year having become the most decorated gymnast in world championship history and helped the United States to a fifth team title.

Cross-country skier Oksana Masters was handed the World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability award.

South Africa men's rugby union side, who won the World Cup in 2019, were selected as the team of the year.

The other major winners were cyclist Egan Bernal (breakthrough), racing driver Sophia Florsch (comeback) and basketball player Dirk Nowitzki (lifetime achievement award).

Lionel Messi and Liverpool are among the front-runners for prizes at the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin on Monday.

Liverpool are up for two gongs after a wonderful year, as they won the 2018-19 Champions League and took a massive leap towards a first top-flight title in 30 years.

Jurgen Klopp's side look set to break a host of records this season, as they have dropped points in just one of their 25 matches and hold a remarkable 22-point lead over defending champions Manchester City in second.

The Reds are in the running for two prizes in the Laureus Sports Awards' 20th anniversary gala – World Team of the Year and Comeback of the Year, the latter on account of their astonishing Champions League semi-final turnaround at the expense of Barcelona.

Among those challenging Liverpool for the former are the United States' Women's football team and the Toronto Raptors, who became the first Canadian franchise win an NBA championship.

A selection of sporting superstars are up for the Sportsman of the Year award, with Barcelona and Argentina icon Lionel Messi among them following his record-breaking sixth Ballon d'Or.

Also in the running is Eliud Kipchoge after the Kenyan became the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours last October, covering the 26.2 miles in one hour, 59 minutes and 40.2 seconds in Vienna.

Ballon d'Or Feminin winner Megan Rapinoe is among those in the hunt for the Sportswoman of the Year gong, although gymnast Simone Biles also has a compelling case.

The 22-year-old last year won five gold medals at the World Championships to become the most decorated gymnast in the event's history, and has won this award twice before, in 2019 and 2017.

The event will take place at the Verti Music Hall in Berlin on Monday. Below is a complete list of the awards up for grabs and the athletes nominated.

Sportsman of the Year

Eliud Kipchoge – Athletics
Lewis Hamilton – Formula One
Lionel Messi – Football
Marc Marquez – MotoGP
Rafael Nadal – Tennis
Tiger Woods – Golf

Sportswoman of the Year

Allyson Felix – Athletics
Megan Rapinoe – Football
Mikaela Shiffrin – Skiing
Naomi Osaka – Tennis
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – Athletics
Simone Biles – Gymnastics

 

Team of the Year

Liverpool – Football
Mercedes-AMG – Formula One
South Africa – Rugby Union
Spain – Basketball
Toronto Raptors – Basketball
United States Women – Football

Breakthrough of the Year

Andy Ruiz – Boxing
Bianca Andreescu – Tennis
Coco Gauff – Tennis
Egan Bernal – Cycling
Japan – Rugby Union
Regan Smith – Swimming

 

Comeback of the Year

Andy Murray – Tennis
Christian Lealiifano – Rugby Union
Kawhi Leonard – Basketball
Liverpool – Football
Nathan Adrian – Swimming
Sophia Florsch – Formula Three

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability

Alice Tai – Swimming
Diede de Groot – Wheelchair Tennis
Jetze Plat – Triathlon
Manuela Schar – Wheelchair Racing
Oksana Masters – Cross Country Skiing
Omara Durand – Athletics

 

Action Sportsperson of the year

Carissa Moore – Surfing
Chloe Kim – Snowboarding
Italo Ferreira – Surfing
Mark McMorris – Snowboarding
Nyjah Huston – Skateboarding
Rayssa Leal – Skateboarding

Chris Froome has described next year's Tour de France route as "brutal" after organisers revealed details of the race on Tuesday.

With five mountain ranges and only one time trial - on the penultimate stage - the course would seem to suit climbers such as French riders Thibaut Pinot and Julian Alaphilippe, as well as Egan Bernal, Froome's Team INEOS colleague and the reigning champion.

Froome, who missed the 2019 Tour having suffered fractures to his femur, elbow and ribs in June, noted how tough the 21-stage course was for 2020 while admitting it should suit most of the challengers for the yellow jersey.

"It's a brutal, brutal course, but good," said four-time Tour de France champion Froome.

"I think it's going to be a really explosive race and very much in favour of the [best climbers of] mountains. But I think that's great, it gives a lot of opportunities for the general classification to be played out.

"That's what everyone wants to see, everyone wants to see a big battle between the rivals.

"For the riders as well, I think it's great because it gives a lot of opportunities to try to make the race and to try to win."

In Froome's absence last year, defending champion Geraint Thomas was expected to be INEOS' lead rider, but it was Bernal who surprisingly emerged to claim a first title.

The team could have three Tour champions on the line at the Grand Depart in Nice next June, yet Froome is more concerned with focusing on his fitness before considering his leadership credentials.

"We've got an amazing line-up, an amazing roster of riders to select from, but nothing is decided yet," Froome said.

"I have obviously to get myself back to that level before even discussing leadership or anything like that.

"At least for now everything is going in the right direction, I'm optimistic."

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