Kiwi Bennett quits Tour de France

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(From R) France's Romain Bardet, Spain's Alberto Contador, New Zealand's George Bennett and South Africa's Louis Meintjes ride in a breakaway during the 214,5 km twelfth stage of the 104th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 13, 2017.

ROMANS-SUR-ISERE - New Zealand's George Bennett quit the Tour de France on Tuesday after getting into difficulty early on during the 16th stage.

The 27-year-old had been suffering from illness in recent days, his Lotto NL Jumbo team said.

He was quickly distanced by the peloton during a third category climb at the beginning of the 165km stage from Le Puy en Velay to Romans sur Isere.

His deficit quickly grew out to more than six minutes before he pulled out before even reaching halfway.

The Kiwi climber was 12th overall when he quit but had been as high as ninth at one stage last week.

His was the second abandonment of the day after former world champion Philippe Gilbert of Belgium pulled out before the stage started with gastroenteritis.