Tejay van Garderen, who sat third in the general classification, has pulled out of the Tour de France after struggling on stage 17.
The BMC leader lost time almost from the off, dropping nearly four minutes back from the peloton. As his teammates were instructed to head back up the road, van Garderen climbed into the team car with 70km to go on the stage to Pra-Loup.
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Van Garderen was on course to record his highest ever Tour de France finish, having placed fifth twice already in 2012 and 2014. Sitting 30 seconds ahead of fourth-place rider Alejandro Valverde, the American proved over the first two weeks of competition that he could compete with the ‘big four’ contenders.
His BMC team have gained three stage wins through the first 16 stages, including the team time trial on stage nine, where they beat Team Sky by a solitary second.
It is reported that van Garderen was suffering from illness on stage 17 and had to be consoled by BMC staff as he pulled up at the side of the road and got into the car.