ALPE D’HUEZ, France (AP) — Three more of the Tour de France’s top sprinters have succumbed in the Alps.
Fernando Gaviria of Colombia, Dylan Groenewegen of the Netherlands, and Andrew Greipel of Germany all withdrew during Stage 12 on Thursday.
Rigoberto Uran, a climbing expert who was runner-up last year to Chris Froome, also withdrew due to injuries he sustained on Stage 9.
Gaviria won the opening stage on his Tour debut and backed that up by claiming the fourth stage, while Groenewegen won bunch sprints at the end of Stages 7 and 8.
Greipel has 11 career stage wins at the world’s top three-week race.
All three pulled out midway through the grueling 175.5-kilometer (109-mile) leg that featured three beyond-category climbs, concluding in an ascent to the iconic Alpe d’Huez summit.
Their withdrawals come a day after sprinters Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel, who have 44 combined Tour stage wins, failed to make the time cut on another mountain stage.
With the race heading to the Pyrenees in the final week, there are only two flat stages left before the traditional finish in Paris.
Uran crashed on Sunday during the stage to Roubaix, damaging his left leg and arm. He went through a hard day on Wednesday and was 30th overall, more than 31 minutes behind race leader Geraint Thomas.
Uran’s EF Education First-Drapac team said in a statement he has not fully recovered and couldn’t pedal properly.
“I didn’t recover after the crash,” Uran said. “Yesterday in the first real climb, all day, there was pain in my body.”