The peloton of the Tour de France is looking significantly lighter after stage 12, with five of the race’s most prolific sprinters having abandoned or been eliminated for missing the time cut.
André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Fernando Gaviria (Quick Step Floors) and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) were among a number of riders to abandon the Tour de France on stage 12, having fallen behind the time cut-off.
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Other riders to leave the race on the stage 12 route to the summit of Alpe d’Huez included Marcel Sieberg (Lotto-Soudal), Paweł Poljański (Bora-Hansgrohe), Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin), Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale).
The likes of Greipel and Gaviria lasted one more day than Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) who failed to meet the time cut-off on Wednesday’s short but mountainous stage 11 between Albertville and La Rosière.
Cavendish was one of few who opted to complete the stage, finishing over an hour behind winner Geraint Thomas (Team Sky).
Zabel also fell behind the schedule on stage 11, but was allowed to continue having haemorrhaged time due to mechanicals. He and Greipel climbed off their bikes on stage 12 after losing over 20 minutes with 70 kilometres of the race remaining.
Gaviria made it half way up the Col de la Croix de Fer, finding himself over 20 minutes in arrears to race leader, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) who went on the attack early on in the 175 kilometre stage from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Alpe d’Huez.
Before reaching the 21 hairpins of the Alpe, riders had to negotiate the hors-categorie slopes of the Col de la Madeleine and the Col de la Croix de Fer, as well as the Lacets de Montvernier.
The stage came one day after some insiders asked if the organisers should have been more lenient with the time allowance following the mountainous stages.
The points classification has seen a major reshuffle after the notable abandons – going into the mountainous stage Gaviria had been in second and Groenewegen third, both having won two stages on sprint days.
The green jersey remains untouched, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) still holding on to the peloton, and other sprinters still in the race include Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) and stage 9 winner John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo).