Mathieu van der Poel is abandoning the Tour de France to focus on the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics.
The 26-year-old Dutch rider won one of his Alpecin-Fenix team’s two stage victories, and also held the yellow jersey before Tadej Pogacar took over as leader in the General Classification.
Speaking ahead of stage 9 in the Alps, Van der Poel confirmed his decision.
Tour de France
The Giro-Tour double: If anyone can… Poga-can
- Roglic abandons Tour de France after wretched stage 8
- Wiggins: 'Supreme' Pogacar performance is 'game over' for Tour de France
- 'It's tough on the head' - Thomas on Tour de France struggles
“It’s impossible against the real climbers to defend, it wasn’t my goal to go for GC, it’s been an amazing week for me and the team. We won two stages and had the yellow for six days. It’s been my first Grand Tour and we can be really proud of that,” he said.
He then explained why he would withdraw, to be able to focus on the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games where he will represent his country.
“I will not start today. We decided with the team it is in my best interests to quit the race and focus on the Olympics now,” he said.
“I’m going to take some time to recover from this first week. We know it would have been difficult for me and I have some other goals.
“It was impossible for me to do the whole tour and then be at my top at Tokyo. I’ll be back next year.”
'Spoke too soon!' - Van der Poel cracks on Stage 8 climb
Tour de France
Pogacar style 'a lot more attractive' than 'calculated' Froome - Merckx
'It was almost becoming PlayStation' – Merckx on 'calculated' Froome and Ineos tactics