With three weeks of racing and thousands of kilometres to cover, sporting events don’t come tougher than the Tour de France.
Last year’s race saw major withdrawals early on due to a wet opening time trial in Düsseldorf, with Alejandro Valverde and Ion Izagirre both crashing out on the first day, before Peter Sagan became the race’s most high-profile non-finisher after he was abandoned on stage four.
As usual, the first two stages of the 2018 Tour de France saw numerous crashes, with the final 20km of stage one seeing time losses for many of the GC contenders, while Lawson Craddock (EF Education First-Drapac) suffered the most serious crash which saw him suffer a minor fractured vertebrae and require stitches above his left eye.
However the first rider abandon of the race was not due to a crash, with Tsgabu Grmay (Trek-Segafredo) climbing off with 95km to go on stage two with his team saying that he was suffering from “severe abdominal pain”.
Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) was the other man who abandoned following a crash with slightly under 40km remaining on the stage to La Roche-sur-Yon.
After all riders made it through the team time trial on stage three, stage four saw a major crash with five kilometres to go in which a number of riders hit the deck, including Axel Domont (Ag2r La Mondiale) who immediately abandoned with a broken collarbone.
Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) was also caught up in that crash but continued to ride to the finish with blood pouring down his face. However the Belgian did not take to the start of stage five having dislocated his shoulder and requiring stitches to cuts above his right eye and the back of his head.
Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) was also a non-starter on stage five. The Australian rider had looked strong in the opening stages, but suffered from vomiting overnight and was unable to eat before the stage, deciding to pull out rather than attempting to race.
On the stage itself there was one abandon, with Robert Kiserlovski crashing in the opening kilometres and having to pull out of the race with a broken collarbone.
After that flurry of abandonments, there were no riders who pulled out of the race as the peloton made its way across France towards stage nine, where the cobbled stage produced even more carnage than we were expecting.
However, quite surprisingly, none of the abandonments from stage nine were as a result of the cobbles.
The first man to pull out was Tony Martin (Kastusha-Alpecin), who crashed on stage eight but rode to the finish, only to be diagnosed with a fractured vertebrae that meant he didn’t line up to start stage nine in Arras.
And despite the crashes later in the stage, it was actually on the tarmac after just 10km the claimed the other two casualties on the stage itself.
Richie Porte (BMC Racing) saw his Tour de France end through a crash for the second year running as he suffered a broken collarbone in the multi-ride pile-up, while José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) was brought down in the same incident, abandoning the race but not suffering any fractures.
However, despite no one abandoning on the cobbles themselves, as two riders pulled out of the race on the rest day that followed and did not line up for the start of stage 10.
Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r La Mondiale) was a loyal domestique for Romain Bardet on the cobbles, but abandoned on the rest day after being diagnosed with a broken shoulder blade after a crash.
Jens Keukeleire (Lotto-Soudal) was the other man to pull of the race ahead of stage 10, being able to finish the final day of the first week on the cobbles despite later being diagnosed with a fractured fibula.
Stage 11, the second mountain stage, saw all 165 riders in the race reach the finish, but Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data), and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) were all eliminated from the race after missing the time cut.
However, there was a stay of execution for Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin) who the race jury took mercy on and decided to allow to continue in the race after he missed the time cut by just four seconds.
The final mountain day in the Alps saw another general classification contender pull out, as 2017 runner-up Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) decided not to take to the start as he continued to suffer from injuries sustained in a crash on the Roubaix stage.
The climb-heavy stage 12 – which saw riders crest the Col de la Madeleine, Col de la Croix de Fer, as well as the Lacets de Montvernier before the Alpe d’Huez – resulted in the abandonment of many of the race’s sprinters, including André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Fernando Gaviria (Quick Step Floors) and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Domestiqes such as Marcel Sieberg (Lotto- Soudal), Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin), and Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) also abandoned mid-stage, while Dmitry Gruzdev (Astana) and Rein Taaramäe (Direct Energie) were eliminated after missing the time cut.
Stage 12 also claimed a general classification victim, with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) crashing in the crowds on Alpe d’Huez. The Italian got up and finished the stage, but abandoned overnight after he was diagnosed with a broken vertebra.
The following day’s stage between Bourg d’Oisans and Valence saw one abandonment as Patrick Bevin (BMC Racing) pulled out midway through the day as he battled ongoing stomach problems.
A relatively easy day in the peloton on stage 14 to Mende saw a day with no abandonments, and all of the riders also crossed the finish line the next day in Carcassonne.
However, there was drama after the conclusion of the stage as Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) was disqualified from the race for punching Fortuneo-Samsic’s Elie Gesbert in the first 800m of the stage.
There was also bad luck for Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) and Damien Howson (Mitchelton-Scott) who were both brought down in an innocuous crash in the finishing straight while the group he was in prepared to sprint for ninth place, and both had to abandon on the rest day.
Stage 16 saw Quick-Step Floors win the stage through Julian Alaphilippe, but also lose two riders in Tim De Clercq and Philippe Gilbert.
De Clercq was visibly suffering during the stage and pulled out through illness, while Gilbert suffered a terrifying crash as he flipped over the side of the road while leading the race.
Gilbert was later diagnosed with a broken knee cap, but remarkably got up and completed the final 60km of the stage before abandoning ahead of stage 17.
The final victim of the Pyrenees was Belgian climber Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal). Vanendert had finished 13th on the first day in the Pyrenees on stage 16, but was dropped on the Col d’Aspin on stage 19 as he suffered from “digestive complaints” and climbed off shortly after
That leaves 145 riders still in the race, with two stages remaining until the race finishes Paris on July 29.
Stage 19 abandonments
Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal) – Illness
Stage 18 abandonments
Stage 17 abandonments
Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) – Crash (DNS)
Stage 16 abandonments
Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) – Crash (DNS)
Damien Howson (Mitchelton-Scott) – Crash (DNS)
Tim De Clercq (Quick-Step Floors) – Illness
Stage 15 abandonments
Stage 14 abandonments
Stage 13 abandonments
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) – Crash (DNS)
Patrick Bevin (BMC Racing) – Illness
Stage 12 abandonments
Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) – Crash (DNS)
André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) – Abandon
Fernando Gaviria (Quick Step Floors) – Abandon
Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) – Abandon
Marcel Sieberg (Lotto-Soudal) – Abandon
Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin) – Abandon
Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) – Abandon
Dmitry Gruzdev (Astana) – Missed time cut
Rein Taaramäe (Direct Energie) – Missed time cut
Stage 11 abandonments
Stage 10 abandonments
Jens Keukeleire (Lotto-Soudal) – Crash (DNS)
Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r La Mondiale) – Crash (DNS)
Stage nine abandonments
Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) – Crash (DNS)
Richie Porte (BMC Racing) – Crash
José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) – Crash
Stage eight abandonments
Stage seven abandonments
Stage six abandonments
Stage five abandonments
Stage four abandonments
Axel Domont (Ag2r La Mondiale) – Crash
Stage three abandonments
Stage two abandonments
Tsgabu Grmay (Trek-Segafredo) – Illness
Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) – Crash
Stage one abandonments
This page will be updated as the race progresses