The third savage Tour de France stage in the Alps proved too much for some top sprinters: one day after Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel finished outside the time limit on La Rosière, Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal), and double stage winners Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNl-Jumbo) and Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) abandoned the race having fallen too far behind to reasonably make the cut.
Stage 11 to Alpe d'Huez was another hot, hard day in the mountains, with the massive 25.3km ascent to the Col de la Madeleine cresting just 53km into the stage.
Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) was the first to abandon, having fallen behind early in the stage. Groenewegen was the next, giving in before the second climb.
Greipel and Gaviria, who tussled in stage 8's sprint to Amiens and were both relegated, chased behind the gruppetto up the Col de la Croix de Fer but fell further behind.
Greipel, along with teammate Marcel Sieberg, then climbed off as both riders knew they would be unable to make the time limit. Gaviria, with his teammate Max Richeze, continued for a few more kilometres before climbing into the team car.
Green jersey holder Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) are the top sprinters left in the race.
Last year, Demare was among the sprinters eliminated on stage 9 of the Tour de France after they missed the time limit.
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