Saint-Genix-sur-Guiers - Top Dutch cyclist Tom Dumoulin pulled out of the Criterium du Dauphine on Saturday so as not to aggravate a knee injury ahead of July's Tour de France.
The 28-year-old came second at both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France last year, as well as winning the 2017 Giro and the 2017 world championships time-trial, making him a chief contender in all major tours and races.
Bookmakers have him firmly amongst the favourites to win the Tour this year as he is a powerful time-trialler, keeps up in the mountains, is tactically aware and rarely panics.
With Chris Froome now hospitalised after his Criterium horror crash, Dumoulin and his Sunweb team will know they have a golden opportunity at the Tour, which starts in three weeks.
But Dumoulin dropped out of the 2019 Giro after falling on his knee on a pedal in stage 4, leaving him sidelined until the Criterium, where he has complained of soreness.
The Sunweb captain came third in a highly competitive time-trial on Wednesday's Criterium stage but lost time on Friday's hilly stage.
"During the night the swelling came back, and I have the feeling its better not to push my luck," said Dumoulin.
"I'll rest up this weekend and then get back to altitude training on Monday with a view to getting in a block of quality training for the Tour."
"This is above all a preventative measure," Sunweb team doctor Camiel Aldershof said.
"Tom was feeling good yesterday, but the swelling came back during the night so we all thought it would be better to rest rather than do this final weekend of climbing at the Dauphine."
Dumoulin described Froome's crash this week as bad for cycling and bad for the Tour after the 34-year-old had a terrible training accident.
Froome will miss out on a chance to win a fifth Tour title after being ruled out for six months due to the incident during the Criterium which fractured his pelvis, thigh, and left him with broken ribs and a broken elbow.