The famous, multi-week European cycling race, Tour de France, took an unusual turn on Friday. Austrian rider Lukas Pöstlberger was forced to abandon the race just two days from the finish in Paris. The reason: an insect sting to the mouth.
Pöstlberger has devoted his Tour to helping the Bora-Hansgrohe team leader Peter Sagan in his quest for the race’s green jersey prize. But just a few minutes into the 103-mile Stage 19, which connects Bourg-en-Bresse to Champagnole in eastern France, the stinging insect struck.
A representative for sponsor company Bora says the culprit was a bee. But race organizers said it was a wasp. Whatever it was, it caused an allergic reaction for Pöstlberger. He was taken to the hospital and quickly recovered, but his Tour was over nonetheless with almost 2,000 miles and four mountain ranges behind him.
Pöstlberger’s withdrawal left the Tour with 146 riders. That’s 30 fewer than it had at its start three weeks ago. It also dealt a blow to Sagan in his fight with Irish rider Sam Bennett for the green jersey.
The jersey is awarded to riders who vacuum up the most points in sprints during and at the end of the Tour’s stages. Sagan was trailing Bennett by 52 points at the start of Friday’s stage.
(Lukas Pöstlberger of Austria is treated by medics during stage 19 of the Tour de France after receiving a race-ending insect sting to the mouth on Friday, September 18, 2020. AP Photo/Christophe Ena)