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Egan Bernal will not take the start of the fourth stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné. Team Ineos didn’t elaborate on the reasons why the Tour de France winner of 2019 had to abandon but France TV quoted Geraint Thomas as saying his Colombian teammate had back pain.
Bernal started his post-COVID season with a strong showing in the Tour d’Occitanie. He won the third stage, the only uphill finish to Col de Beyrède and won the overall classification. In Tour de l’Ain Bernal went head to head with his prime contender in the Tour de France, Primoz Roglic, for the first time. The Slovenian Jumbo-Visma rider beat Bernal twice and won the overall classification with Bernal in second place at 18 seconds.
The Criterium du Dauphiné is traditionally the final test before the Tour de France but two weeks before the Grand Départ in Nice, Bernal is out. The Colombian rider started off strong with a third place in the first stage, taking an early lead of four bonus seconds on Roglic in the general classification. In the second stage on the Col de Porte, Bernal tried to match an attack by Roglic but had to get back in the saddle and lost valuable time. In Friday’s stage Bernal couldn’t follow the pace of the first group of favorites and lost another nine seconds on his rivals.
Egan Bernal had dropped to seventh place in the general classification before abandoning the race on Saturday morning before the start of stage four to Megève. Pavel Sivakov is now Team Ineos’ best rider in 18th place. The Russian prodigy helped Bernal on the Col de Porte in stage 2 and then dropped from the main group. He lost almost three minutes that day.
Team Ineos and its predecessor Team Sky won six out of the nine most recent editions of Criterium du Dauphiné, a race which traditionally is the most important indicator towards the Tour de France.