Cycling: World champion Costa withdraws from Tour de France

World road race champion Rui Costa of Portugal rides in the pack during the 194-km sixth stage of the 101st edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 10, 2014 between Arras and Reims, northern France. World champion Rui Costa of Portuga
World road race champion Rui Costa of Portugal rides in the pack during the 194-km sixth stage of the 101st edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 10, 2014 between Arras and Reims, northern France. World champion Rui Costa of Portugal withdrew from the Tour de France on Tuesday owing to pneumonia, his Lampre-Merida team said in a statement. -- PHOTO:AFP 

CARCASSONNE, France (AFP) - World champion Rui Costa of Portugal withdrew from the Tour de France on Tuesday owing to pneumonia, his Lampre-Merida team said in a statement.

He ad been 13th in the standings almost 13 minutes behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali of Italy.

His team said he'd been struggling with bronchitis in the Alps before Monday's rest day.

Lampre said: "(Costa) was forced to retire after an X-ray examination, carried out during the rest day at a clinic in Pezenas, showed an outbreak of pneumonia."

The 27-year-old had come into the race hoping to secure a high finish, having ridden as a domestique (support rider) for Alejandro Valverde at Movistar last year.

But he had been struggling to keep pace with the top riders for several days.