André Greipel has abandoned the Tour de France 2020.
The Israel Start-Up Nation rider stepped off the bike after around 40km of racing on stage 18, during a savage day of mountain racing.
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German sprinting star Greipel has been battling hard to make it through the Tour’s toughest mountains, finishing stage 17 to Col de la Loze 32 minutes behind the stage winner, just a few minutes before the time cut off.
But as the peloton another huge day of climbing on stage 18 to La-Roche-sur-Foron, which includes five categorised ascents, Greipel had to give up the race.
The 38-year-old, an 11-time Tour de France stage winner, abandoned the race during the first climb of the day, the 19.3km-long, six per cent average Cormet de Roselend.
Greipel, who joined new WorldTour team Start-Up Nation at the start of the season, hasn’t won a Tour stage since 2016, and looked to be off the pace early in the 2020.
After crashing on the opening stage and not finishing in the top 100 in the opening nine stages, Greipel then found his legs for stage nine in the crosswinds to Île de Ré, fighting his way to sixth place in the sprint finish as Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) took the win.
Greipel left Lotto-Soudal in 2018 to step down to Professional Continental level with Arkéa-Samsic, but after suffering from illness he left the team before the end of the season, bringing his contract to a premature end.
News then emerged Greipel would be returning to the highest level as Israel Cycling Academy merged with Katusha-Alpecin to become a WorldTour team.
Greipel is the 27th rider to leave the Tour and will miss out on the last sprint opportunities of the race, including the prestigious Champs Élysées stage, which he has won on two previous occasions during his 15-year longcareer.