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Tour de France down to 140 riders after stage 18

Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious)
Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) (Image credit: Stephen Farrand/Cyclingnews)

The Tour de France started with 176 riders but after 18 stages the race is down to just 140 as three riders left before the stage to Hautacam because of COVID-19.

Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) signed on for stage 18 but then learned that his test had come back positive for the virus and head to head home.

Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious), who was 22nd overall and who had been in the breakaway on stage 16 to Foix, and Imanol Erviti (Movistar) also tested positive and left the race.

COVID-19 is the biggest culprit knocking riders out of the race. There have been at least 17 riders to test positive in the third Tour de France since the pandemic started. 

In the past two Tours, strict sanitary measures prevented coronavirus cases at the Tour, but the return of spectators and loosening of the race bubble let the latest highly infectious variant ricochet through the peloton.

Stage-by-Stage

Stage 5

The first rider to abandon was Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious). He crashed out on the cobbled stage, coming down when riders hit a hay bale that had been knocked into the exit of a roundabout. Michael Gogl (Alpecin-Deceuninck) also abandoned on the stage due to a crash.

Gogl fell along with Daniel Oss (TotalEnergies) after running into a spectator who had stepped into the road to take pictures. The Austrian suffered a broken collarbone and broken pelvis/iliac bone.

  • DNF Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) - Crash
  • DNF Michael Gogl (Alpecin-Deceuninck) - Crash

Stage 6

Alex Kirsch (Trek-Segafredo) struggled and fell behind the race, eventually pulling out. Oss finished stage 5 but did not start after X-rays showed his fractured vertebra.

  • DNS Daniel Oss (TotalEnergies) - Crash
  • DNF Alex Kirsch (Trek-Segafredo) - Fatigue

Stage 8:

The first COVID-19 cases since the start of the Tour came on stage 8, when Laengen and Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën) tested positive and left the race. Astana's Gianni Moscon also pulled out, suffering from lingering effects of a previous COVID-19 infection.

  • DNS Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE Team Emirates) - COVID-19
  • DNS Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën) - COVID-19
  • DNF Gianni Moscon (Astana Qazaqstan) - long COVID-19

Stage 8:

Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM) went down in a mass crash during the stage and fractured his collarbone.

  • DNF Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM) - Crash

Stage 9: 

Kasper Asgreen (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) quit due to a left knee injury he suffered at the Tour de Suisse, while Cofidis' GC leader Guillaume Martin tested positive for COVID-19. EF Education-EasyPost's Ruben Guerreiro did not start the stage due to an illness his team says was not related to coronavirus.

  • DNS Kasper Asgreen (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) - Knee injury
  • DNS Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) - COVID-19
  • DNS Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-EasyPost) - Illness

Stage 10:

Tadej Pogačar lost a key helper when George Bennett joined the ranks of the COVID-19 positives. Luke Durbridge (BikeExchange-Jayco) also tested positive before the stage. Ben O'Connor, who had been struggling since a crash on stage 2, left the race with a torn gluteus muscle. Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies), who alarmingly collapsed at the finish of stage 9 after vomiting during the stage, was found to have a skin infection and pulled out.

  • DNS George Bennett (UAE Team Emirates) - COVID-19
  • DNS Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën) - Injury
  • DNS Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies) - illness
  • DNS Luke Durbridge (BikeExchange-Jayco) - COVID-19

Stage 11:

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) abandoned after fighting but failing to find good form after a tough Giro d'Italia. On the same day, Oliver Naesen (AG2R Citroën) - showing all the symptoms of COVID-19 but not testing positive - left the race.

  • DNF Oliver Naesen (AG2R Citroën) - possible COVID-19
  • DNF Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) - Fatigue

Stage 13:

Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) was a surprise abandon on stage 13 after a COVID-19 positive. The Frenchman was on the attack just one day earlier on the stage to Alpe d'Huez, where riders had to snake their way through enormous crowds of spectators. Victor Lafay (Cofidis) was among a group of three riders who were the last to arrive to the finish at Alpe d'Huez on Thursday. He abandoned the Tour the next day between Le Bourg d'Oisans and Saint-Étienne on stage 13.

  • DNF Victor Lafay (Cofidis) - Fatigue
  • DNS Warren Barguil (Team Arkea-Samsic) - COVID-19

Stage 15:

Jumbo-Visma made the surprise decision to pull Primož Roglič from the Tour de France, leaving Jonas Vingegaard down one key man heading into the mountainous final week. They said he needed to recover from injuries suffered in an earlier crash. It was bad luck because mid-stage, Steven Kruijswijk crashed and was out of the race with a separated shoulder.

Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) and Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) - both winners of stages - came up COVID-19 positive and did not start.

On the same stage, Michael Mørkøv (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) fought valiantly for 200 kilometres alone ahead of the broom wagon but missed the time cut.

  • DNS Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) - Injury 
  • DNF Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) - Crash 
  • OTL Michael Mørkøv (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) - Time cut 
  • DNS Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) - COVID-19
  • DNS Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) - COVID-19

Stage 16:

More positives came before stage 16 after the rest day batch of testing. AG2R Citroën started with just three men after Mikael Cherel and Aurélien Paret-Peintre came back positive. Max Walscheid (Cofidis) was positive, too. Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) showed symptoms - he did not test positive but left the race. Jakob Fuglsang (Israel-Premier Tech), who suffered a broken rib in a crash over the weekend, did not start on Tuesday.

Soler finished the day 15 minutes outside the time cut, having been visibly ill during the stage.

  • DNS Mikael Cherel (AG2R Citroën) - COVID-19
  • DNS Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën) - COVID-19
  • DNS Max Walscheid (Cofidis) - COVID-19
  • DNS Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) - Illness
  • DNS Jakob Fuglsang (Israel-Premier Tech) - Injury
  • DNF Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) - Time cut

Stage 17:

Pogacar lost a key teammate when Rafał Majka, who snapped his chain the previous day on a climb, pulled out of the race with a torn muscle. On the same day, Lotto Soudal hopeful Tim Wellens tested positive for COVID-19 and was out.

  • DNS Rafał Majka (UAE Team Emirates) - injury
  • DNS Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) - COVID-19
  • DNF Fabio Felline (Astana) - illness

Stage 18:

Three more riders fell victim to the coronavirus before stage 18. Chris Froome, so strong on Alpe d'Huez, was out along with Imanol Erviti (Movistar) and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious)

  • Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) - COVID-19
  • Imanol Erviti (Movistar) - COVID-19
  • Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) - COVID-19

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Managing Editor

Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Managing Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks. Laura's beat is anti-doping, UCI governance and data analysis.