Tejay van Garderen’s Tour comes to a premature end due to illness  

American Tejay van Garderen withdrew from the Tour de France on Wednesday's 17th stage when lying third overall due to illness.

The 26-year-old BMC Racing team leader was three minutes 32 seconds behind Tour leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) ahead of the 161-kilometres from Digne-les-Bains to Pra Loup.

But Van Garderen lost contact early on the first stage in the Alps and it soon became apparent all was not well.

His BMC Racing team said he was suffering from headaches and Van Garderen abandoned midway through the stage.

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.

Meanwhile, Irish sprinter Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon) has also abandoned the Tour.

Bennett, who enjoyed his most successful season to date prior to his Grand Tour debut, was languishing in last place in the standings almost three-and-a-half hours behind Froome. 

Bennett (Bora-Argon) quit after being the first rider to be dropped on the stage.

The 24-year-old 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.