For a sprinter like Dan McLay, stage 17 of the Tour de France was always a day to dread. Starting the day fatigued and ill, the Team Fortuneo-Oscaro rider climbed off his bike after 100km and abandoned the race.
McLay, 24, started the day 3:50:36 down on yellow jersey holder Chris Froome (Team Sky) with the lanterne rouge all but secured and on track to join John Clarey (1968) and Tony Hoar (1955) as British 'winners' of the classification. Having finished last on stages 15 and 16 and second last on stage 14, McLay had suffered since his top ten results in the stage 10 and 11 sprints. Despite the possibility of the stage 19 and 21 sprint finishes, he explained he is completely empty.
"It's hard to abandon the Tour ... for a week I've been fighting to get on time but today there was nothing to do," McLay said. "I managed to make good sprints, but for now I do not have enough. I'm just sad to give up. I won't touch the bike for a few days but I will come back stronger and faster."
McLay made it to Paris on his Tour debut last year, recording four top tens and then was 12th in the final day Paris sprint.
Disappointed to lose McLay, Fortuneo-Oscaro's sports director Sébastien Hinault preferred to focus on the result of Brice Feillu after the 31-year-old jumped from 19th to 16th overall. A Tour stage winner in 2009, Feillu is on track to match his 16th place overall from 2014.
"We knew that for Dan this day was going to be very complicated. He had been fighting for a while to get back on schedule," Hinault said. "This is the bad news of the day but it is also the Tour. We must remember the positive, Brice rode a great stage. Making the breakaway today was the goal and he did what was required. He is 16th in the general, it is a beautiful place."
Team Sky's Luke Rowe is the new lanterne rouge following McLay's abandon placing the British team in the unusual position of having a rider at the top and bottom of the general classification.
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