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Tour de France

Lost boys: The 2021 Tour de France had a 23 percent attrition rate

An alphabetical list of the 43 abandons, the respective riders' expectations, how they were racing, and why they left the Tour.

Many of the 43 riders who did not finish the 2021 Tour de France did not do so due to the multiple crashes on the first three stages, while the injuries sustained in those crashes greatly affected the chances of potential contenders. Three wet, cold days on the second weekend, followed by long, hot days in the Midi, and then more rain in the Pyrénéan stages, contributed to the long list of abandons — though the eventual, 23-percent attrition rate was no higher than most years. 

* One asterisk indicates riders who abandoned in week 2; ** two asterisks indicate riders who abandoned in week 3.

*1. Warren Barguil (FRA), Arkéa-Samsic
Starting his seventh Tour in his native Brittany, Barguil was hopeful that he could repeat his 2017 performance of winning a stage in the mountains, taking the polka-dot jersey and finish top-10 overall. But after being involved in crashes the opening weekend and recording a best finish of 29th in the second alpine stage, he was involved in the nasty stage 13 crash. “I think it was one crash too many,” he reported. “My back and backside were affected, which made it difficult to put power through my right leg.” He did not start stage 14, one he had targeted for a stage win.

*2. Tiesj Benoot (BEL), Team DSM
Like his teammate Soren Kragh Andersen, Benoot was hoping to win one of the rolling stages. But he crashed on stages 1 and 3 that handicapped him for the rest of his Tour. After abandoning the race in the early part of the Ventoux stage, he said: “I am still suffering from the crashes earlier in the race and I could feel it today on the bike.” He has recovered in time to start the Olympic Games road race with the Belgian national team.

*3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR), Team TotalÉnergies
Starting his 11th Tour short on form, Boasson Hagen soon lost his goal of adding to his list of three stage wins after involvement in the stage 1 crashes. He did manage to get in the stage 12 breakaway to Nîmes but was unable to follow the late accelerations and finished 12th. After riding stage 14 in the gruppetto he struggled the next day, was quickly dropped, and rode most of the mountain stage alone with the broom wagon behind him. He bravely finished the day more than an hour behind the leaders but was eliminated from the Tour.

Nacer Bouhanni left that Tour after a tough stage in Andorra
Nacer Bouhanni left the Tour after a tough stage in Andorra. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Image

*4. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA), Arkéa-Samsic
One of the best French sprinters, Bouhanni began this Tour well. He placed top three in the early sprint stages and even after being involved in the stage 13 crash, he placed 11th in Carcassonne. While he sustained no broken bones, he did suffer contusions all over his body. The next day he was dropped early in stage 14 with two others and just made the time split. On stage 15 to Andorra, he was dropped from the start and rode 60 kilometers alone before quitting. “I was at the end of my tether,” he reported. “It’s really hard to abandon the Tour.”

*5. Victor Campenaerts (BEL), Qhubeka-NextHash
After being caught up in the early-stage crashes, Campenaerts suffered in the Alps and abandoned on stage 11 after climbing Mont Ventoux the first time.

6. Bryan Coquard (FRA), B&B Hotels-KTM
A victim of the high-speed stage 1 crash that eliminated his B&B team captain Cyril Lemoine, sprinter Coquard said the wet, cold weather on stage 9 accentuated his suffering from a badly bruised back and buttocks. He struggled to the finish but was four minutes outside the time limit — “that’s the tough rule of the sport,” he commented.

7. Stefan de Bod (RSA), Astana-Premier Tech
A valued worker for Astana-Premier Tech team leader Alexey Lutsenko, de Bod finished outside the time limit on stage 9, not fully recovered from a scary crash the day before on the slick descent of Mont Saxonnex. The 2019 African continental time trial champion was riding his first Tour following a solid performance at the 2020 Vuelta a España.

8. Jasper De Buyst (BEL), Lotto-Soudal
A team worker, De Buyst was the first rider on stage 9 to abandon the race. His team said that the cold, wet conditions revived some back pain that he’d endured in the spring and already caused him to quit the Giro d’Italia, also on stage 9.

9. Anthony Delaplace (FRA), Team Arkéa-Samsic
Riding his eighth Tour de France in search of a stage win, Delaplace said the first week’s high speeds made it “hyper-difficult to shine.” He gave everything he could on the wet, mountainous stage 9 but arrived in Tignes four minutes outside the time limit. “Difficult to describe what I feel this evening,” he wrote on Twitter, “the disappointment is so great.”

10. Arnaud Démare (FRA), Groupama-FDJ
Not fully recovered from his high-speed crash on stage 3, Groupama-FDJ’s sprinter and team leader Démare was dropped from the gruppetto on the apocalyptic stage 9 and finished four minutes outside the time limit. “It’s cycling and we know that the Tour is unforgiving,” he said.

11. Nic Dlamini (RSA), Qhubeka-NextHash
The first Black South African to compete at the Tour de France, Dlamini crashed on an early climb of stage 9 through the Alps, lost contact with the gruppetto and rode the rest of the stage alone. He finished 47 minutes outside the time cut. “I think just getting off my bike and into a car wouldn’t be an option,” he said.

Team Lotto Soudal's Caleb Ewan of Australia (R) reacts as he falls with Team Bora Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan of Slovakia (L) close to the finish line of the 3rd stage of the 108th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, 182 km between Lorient and Pontivy, on June 28, 2021. (Photo by Christophe Ena / various sources / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOPHE ENA/AFP via Getty Images)
Caleb Ewan and Peter Sagan crashed late in Monday’s stage. Photo: CHRISTOPHE ENA/AFP via Getty Images

12. Caleb Ewan (AUS), Lotto-Soudal
Australian sprinter Ewan could not start stage 4 after breaking his collarbone in his spectacular crash with Peter Sagan during the stage 3 finishing sprint.

**13. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN), Astana-Premier Tech
After helping team leader Alexey Lutsenko into seventh on GC, Fuglsang woke up feeling sick before the final stage and pulled out of the Tour to focus on the upcoming Olympics.

14. Robert Gesink (NED), Jumbo-Visma
Jumbo-Visma’s veteran climbing domestique Gesink crashed out of the Tour on stage 3 with a concussion and a broken collarbone.

*15. Michael Gogl (AUT), Qhubeka-NextHash
One of his team’s strongest classics riders, Gogl was hoping to make a good result on one of the flatter stages. But that goal looked unlikely after he crashed on the Tour’s second weekend. He said he suffered through the Alps and the Ventoux stage “in the hope of an improvement to my knee injury. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, and I came to the limit in yesterday’s easy stage [to Nîmes].” He did not start stage 13.

*16. Amund Grøndahl Jansen (NED), Team BikeExchange
Still suffering from injuries sustained in the stage 1 crashes, this Norwegian team worker pulled out of the Tour on the second rest day — the first time he had to abandon a grand tour in his career.

17. Jacopo Guarnieri (ITL), Groupama-FDJ
The lead-out man for team leader Arnaud Démare, Guarnieri hadn’t fully recovered from injuring his stomach in a stage 6 crash; he suffered on the second alpine stage and finished well outside the time limit. “I gave all I got today,” he said, “but it wasn’t enough.”

18. Jack Haig (AUS), Bahrain Victorious
Bahrain Victorious team leader Jack Haig was planning great things until a high-speed crash on stage 3 put him out of the race with a broken collarbone. (See “Lost Boys of the Tour: Part 3.”)

*19. Lucas Hamilton (AUS), Team BikeExchange
In his fourth season with the Australian team and in a year when he has placed top 10 in some weeklong stage races, Hamilton was hoping that his Tour debut would see the team winning stages while he rode a consistent race in the overall classification. A good climber, he was hoping to support better-placed teammates Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates in the Pyrénées. But that dream ended in the nasty stage 13 crash when he had to abandon the Tour with a dislocated right shoulder.

*20. Roger Kluge (GER), Lotto-Soudal
A solid team worker, this German veteran was expected to be one of the lead-out riders for Lotto-Soudal team leader Caleb Ewan; that plan didn’t last beyond Ewan crashing out of the Tour on stage 3. Ten stages later, Kluge was in the middle of the bad pileup. “We were just sliding on stones,” he reported. “It was super-fast and other guys were crashing into me…I was sliding for a long time.” With heavy abrasions on his back, right hip, and elbow, which needed stitches, he could not continue.

*21. Jonas Koch (GER), Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert
After an excellent runner-up spot in the German national road championship a week before the Tour, Koch was hoping to do well on one of the flatter stages when he wasn’t working for his team’s sprinters, Boy and Danny van Poppel. But after Koch was sick on the two stages through the Alps he could not start stage 10.

22. Ignatus Konovalovas (LIT), Groupama-FDJ
A victim of stage 1’s second mass pileup, team worker Konovalovas had to quit with a concussion.

*23. Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN), Team DSM
After winning two stages last year, Kragh Andersen was hopeful of having another successful Tour; but he was involved in crashes in the opening week, struggled through the Alps, and just made the time limit by a handful of seconds on the Ventoux stage. Two days later, in the multiple-rider crash on loose gravel, he tumbled into a ravine. He managed to continue, riding the last 60 kilometers alone, but he was diagnosed with a concussion and did not start stage 14.

Kruijswijk abandoned the 2021 Tour on stage 15. Photo: STEPHANE MAHE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

**24. Steven Kruijswijk (NED), Jumbo-Visma
After a solid ride supporting his team leaders, the Dutch veteran started feeling ill on the second rest day, was dropped early in stage 15, and abandoned the Tour.

25. Cyril Lemoine (FRA), B&B Hotels-KTM
Another victim of stage 1’s second mass pileup, B&B Hotels-KTM team captain Lemoine abandoned the race with four broken ribs, a cut behind his right ear, and a collapsed lung.

**26, Miguel Ángel López (COL), Movistar Team
After early losses, López ceded his team leadership to Enric Mas and pulled out of the Tour before stage 19. As an alternate for the Colombian Olympic team, he was hoping to ride the road race in Tokyo.

Tony Martin abandoned the Tour de France on stage 11
Tony Martin abandoned the 2021 Tour de France on stage 11. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images

*27. Tony Martin (GER), Jumbo-Visma
At age 36 and riding his 13th Tour, Tony Martin needs little introduction. His palmarès includes four world time trial titles, 10 national TT championships, and five stages of the Tour. Jumbo-Visma’s strongest team worker, he famously crashed into the spectator holding a cardboard sign on stage 1, and he didn’t get a true chance to work for his injured team leader Primož Roglič—who left the race before stage 9. Then, two days later, Martin had another spectacular crash, ending up in a ditch with a bloodied right arm and leg before being hospitalized.

*28. Dan McLay (GBR), Arkéa-Samsic
Riding his third Tour, British sprinter McLay was expected to be teammate Nacer Bouhanni’s lead-out man. But after being involved in the crashes over the first weekend, he rode a race of survival that came to end on the stage to Mont Ventoux. “Dan was able to hold out for a few days [through the Alps],” said his sports director Sébastien Hinault. “But with the accumulation of fatigue, his body said stop.”

29. Tim Merlier (BEL), Alpecin-Fenix
One of the sport’s top sprinters disputing his first Tour, Merlier won stage 3 at Pontivy but quit the race halfway through stage 9 after he was dropped by the last group on the road. He said that the tight time limit [37 minutes on a stage over five categorized climbs] “created stress and a faster rhythm in the gruppetto…and at one point I was empty and couldn’t follow.”

*30. Vincenzo Nibali (ITL), Trek-Segafredo
With the Giro d’Italia already in his legs, former Tour winner Nibali used the Tour to hone his form for the upcoming Olympics before leaving the race on the second rest day. “I raced a different Tour compared to my past experience, but similar to 2016 before Rio,” he said in Andorra after taking 11th place on the second Pyrénéan stage. “I think it was the perfect way for me to reach top form for Tokyo.”

3. Nans Peters (FRA), AG2R-Citroên
Riding with a small fracture in his back (a lumbar transverse apophysis) since coming down in the first mass pileup on stage 1, French climber Peters was forced to quit the Tour halfway up the Col de Pré on stage 9. The day before, despite the pain, he managed to finish in an honorable 28th place on the first alpine stage.

Primoz Roglic finished over 35 minutes down on stage 8
Primoz Roglic finished over 35 minutes down on stage 8. Photo: John Berry/Getty Images

32. Primož Roglič (SLO), Jumbo-Visma
The top favorite to challenge Tadej Pogačar, fellow Slovenian Roglič took two third places before crashing at high speed on stage 3. Covered in cuts and bruises, he soldiered on, taking a remarkable seventh place in the time trial, but after finishing minutes behind the other GC leader on stages 7 and 8, he did not start stage 9. “I was in a lot of pain. It was just too much for my body,” he said. After recuperating, he is bidding for Olympic golds at the road race and time trial in Tokyo.

*33. Luke Rowe (GBR), INEOS Grenadiers
In his seven Tours de France, INEOS Grenadiers hardman Rowe had never quit the race—though he was DQ’d on stage 17 two years ago after an altercation with Tony Martin. This year, he was again the British team’s solid road captain, famed for his long pulls and sense of humor. On stage 11, he “hit the wall” on the day’s first climb and rode solo for the rest of the day, including two climbs of Mont Ventoux, and finished six minutes outside the time limit.

*34. Clément Russo (FRA), Arkéa-Samsic
Another “survivor” of the mass pileups in Brittany, French team worker Russo was subsequently nursing a painful back caused by a broken rib. He could no longer fight off the pain and retired with teammate McLay on the Ventoux stage. “I would like to salute their courage to go so far in the race,” said team boss Sébastien Hinault.

*35. Peter Sagan (SVK), Bora-Hansgrohe
Peter Sagan is not a rider who quits. Of the first nine Tours de France he rode, the only time he didn’t finish the race was in 2017 when he was controversially DQ’d for a sprint misdemeanor with Mark Cavendish. But there was nothing the Slovak superstar could do about the infected right knee that forced him to leave the Tour before stage 12. Antibiotics hadn’t worked on the infection that Sagan picked up after banging the knee on a chainring in his full-speed crash with Caleb Ewen in the stage 3 sprint finish. Minor surgery went well, but Sagan also ruled out his riding the Olympic road race in Tokyo.

*36. Miles Scotson (AUS), Groupama-FDJ
Already sick starting stage 11, Scotson suffered from heatstroke in the early kilometers before tackling Mont Ventoux and had to stop. “I struggled a lot after the first rest day and yesterday was too much when my body was saying no,” he wrote on Instagram.

37. Marc Soler (ESP), Movistar Team
One of the Movistar Team’s top climbers, Soler could not start stage 2 after bravely finishing stage 1 with two fractured elbows.

38. Jasha Sütterlin (GER), Team DSM
German Jasha Sütterlin, a workhorse for Team DSM, crashed out on stage 1, being hospitalized with severe contusions of his right wrist.

39. Mathieu van der Poel (NED), Alpecin-Fenix
After an enormously successful opening week to his first Tour — one stage win and six days in the yellow jersey—Dutch phenom van der Poel did not start stage 9. He planned to rest for a week, train hard at an altitude camp in Tignes and then fly to Tokyo in a bid to win an Olympic gold medal in the mountain bike cross-country event.

*40. Tosh Van der Sande (BEL), Lotto-Soudal
Riding his first Tour at age 30, Belgian team worker Van der Sande was another rider who didn’t fully recover from the early-stage crashes. Besides fatigue, he suffered from lower back pain before reaching Mont Ventoux on stage 11 and his race was over. “Cruel sport we have,” he observed on Twitter.

41. Loïc Vliegen (BEL), Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert
A team worker riding his first Tour, Vliegen finished four minutes outside the time limit on stage 9. As a result of injuring his knee in one of the stage 1 pileups, he said he adjusted his position on the bike and was suffering from back pain and “could barely pedal.” As for missing the time cut at Tignes, he said, “I pushed hard but I knew it would be difficult to stay in the time limit.”

Michael Woods abandoned the 2021 Tour in the final week to prepare for the Olympic road race. Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images

**42. Michael Woods (CAN), Israel Start-Up Nation
After showing flashes of his climbing strength with two top-5 finishes, Woods left the race before stage 19 to travel to Tokyo to lead the three-man Canadian team in the Olympic road race.

*43. Simon Yates (GBR), Team BikeExchange
After finishing third in the Giro d’Italia, Simon Yates said he’d use the Tour as a chance to add a third stage win to his palmarès and prepare himself for the Olympic road race. He placed sixth on the first mountain stage in the Alps and was looking forward to the two mountaintop finishes in the third week; but then came the nasty pileup on a gravel-strewn descent on stage 13. Badly shaken, he couldn’t continue, but a later scan revealed no broken bones, just trauma to his abdominal wall. He’s expected to do well in Tokyo.