Egan Bernal has abandoned the Critérium du Dauphiné with back problems before the start of stage four.
Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) said before stage four: “He’s just got a bit of an issue with his back. He’s not 100 per cent. He’s had two races before this as well, so he has a good amount of race days in him, so it’s just err-ing on the side of caution really.
“Just got to make sure he’s 100 per cent for the Tour [de France].”
The 2018 Tour winner continued “This just doesn’t give us as much of a focus on the general classification, so we’ll try and get someone in the break and just use the last two days of racing.”
This could still give chances to other riders, such as Thomas, to show their GC credentials. Maybe the young Russian, Pavel Sivakov, who performed well yesterday, and finished in the same group as Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
Speaking about Chris Froome, Thomas heralded his team-mate’s recovery, saying the four-time Tour champion still contributes a lot to the team even if he isn’t at the peak of his powers.
“He’s improved a lot, I think it’s easy to forget where he was last year, it is unbelievable how he’s recovered.” said Thomas.
“Obviously he’d like to be better but, to make that initial jump is okay, he just needs a bit of time to really find his legs again but he still contributes to the team and is great to have around.”
Bernal was seventh at 31s from Roglič, Sivakov in 18th at 3-15, Thomas in 28th at 7-36 and Froome in 60th at 29-30.