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ALPE d’HUEZ, France (AFP) — The Tour de France hopes of Frenchman Romain Bardet suffered another setback Thursday after his Ag2r La Mondiale teammate Tony Gallopin pulled out during the grueling stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez.
Bardet, who finished runner-up to Chris Froome in 2016 and was third place last year when the Briton took his fourth crown, saw his yellow jersey ambitions dented when teammate Alexis Vuillermoz pulled out due to injury on Sunday and Axel Domont abandoned last week.
A short statement by Tour organizers on Thursday read, “Tony Gallopin is the third Ag2r La Mondiale rider to pull out of the Tour de France after Axel Domont (stage 4) and Alexis Vuillermoz (stage 9).”
With teams restricted to eight riders in this 105th edition of the race, Ag2r are now down to five riders — leaving Bardet with scant support for the remaining mountain stages in the Pyrénées next week.
At the start of Thursday’s 175.5-kilometer stage 12 from Bourg Saint Maurice to Alpe d’Huez, Bardet was eighth overall at 2:58 behind overnight leader Geraint Thomas of Team Sky.
Sky’s Froome, who is aiming for a fourth consecutive grand tour win, is second overall at 1:25.