The Dutchman starred during the first week of this year’s tour, winning on Mur-de-Bretagne on Stage 2 to take the yellow jersey which he held until Saturday’s first mountain stage.
Van der Poel was expected to lose the lead during the stage five time trial but delivered an inspirational effort to cling onto the maillot jaune.
Reigning Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia took the yellow from Van der Poel yesterday as he put more than three minutes into his general classification rivals on the Col de la Colombiere.
Despite kitting up and arriving at the start of Stage 9 in Clauses on Sunday, the Alpecin Fenix star made the call to step away from the tour and shift his attention to winning Olympic gold.
“Unfortunately I will not start today, we decided with the team that it’s in my best interest to quit the race and focus on the Olympics now,” Van der Poel said.
“Due to corona, it was impossible for me to do the whole Tour and then be at my top game at Tokyo. I guess I had one week and I had an amazing week so I’ll be back next year to go to Paris.”
Van der Poel will now rest up and begin his Tokyo preparation. He will race the Olympic mountain-bike event on July 26 where he will be lining up against Tom Pidcock, Mathias Flueckiger, Nino Schurter and more in the hunt for the gold medal.