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Tejay van Garderen pulls out of Tour de France

Tejay van Garderen, the American leader of the BMC team, has pulled out of the Tour de France on Wednesday.

Van Garderen, clearly hurting following Tuesday's rest day, clambered off his bike on a climb during Stage 17 and got into a car. His team doctor said he had a headache and had no energy after battling a respiratory infectio for several days.

His withdrawal frees up space at the top end of the overall rankings. He had started Wednesday's stage in third place overall -- 3 minutes, 32 seconds behind race leader Chris Froome.

BMC team officials wrapped their arms around his shoulders to comfort the 26-year-old American, who was dropped on the first of five climbs. He later caught up the peloton but was dropped again on the third climb and abandoned the race.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.