Tour de France: Tejay van Garderen pulls out of race
Last Updated: 22/07/15 3:28pm
American Tejay van Garderen, one of Chris Froome's main rivals to win the Tour de France, has pulled out of the race because of illness.
The BMC Racing team rider was third overall going into Wednesday's 17th stage.
He was dropped by the peloton early in the stage and although he managed to catch back up, he was dropped again when Alberto Contador attacked 73km out and he stepped off his bike soon after.
The Tour finishes in Paris on Sunday and Van Garderen had been hoping to become the first American on the podium since Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his record seven victories and his third place in 2009 for doping.
Van Garderen departed to the team car in tears.
It means Spaniard Alejandro Valverde moves up into a podium position behind second-placed Nairo Quintana, with Contador just 19 seconds behind.
His withdrawal was good news for Geraint Thomas, who was promoted to fifth place on the road behind Froome with four days remaining after Wednesday's finish at Pra Loup.
Van Garderen was not the only rider to abandon on a sweltering day. Irishman Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon) quit after being the first rider to be dropped on the stage.
Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) and Jerome Coppel (IAM Cycling) also quit on the first of four stages in the Alps.