Bradley Wiggins says that Egan Bernal’s withdrawal from the Tour de France is a reminder of the fragility of form in professional cycling.

The defending Tour de France champion was pulled out of the race by his team ahead of Stage 17 citing a back injury, and Wiggins says it is an indication of how quickly fortunes can switch for the leading riders.

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“Last year’s winner, the 23-year-old, has been withdrawn from the Tour de France citing back problems, which we saw at the Dauphine,” Wiggins confirmed.

“It just shows how fragile things can be in this sport. Last year the winner of the Tour de France and tipped for big things, potentially winning the next five or six or seven Tour de Frances. A year on and he’s having to abandon the Tour.”

Bernal was picked as team leader for the Tour as he targeted retaining his crown, with Ineos opting against picking Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome alongside him. And Wiggins believe this development is a further indication that the selection was a flawed one.

“It’s not the end for him, he’s only 23 and has got many years ahead of him. But it does raise the questions as to whether Ineos made the right selection in this Tour de France, leaving Geraint Thomas out and of course the four-time winner Chris Froome.

“What will happen for Ineos now? They’ll deploy the tactic of trying to put somebody in the breaks and search for stage wins. It’s all they’ve got left in this race.”

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