The Tour de France should have the fewest number of finishers since 2000

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As 135 of the race’s original 176 starters line up on Sunday afternoon at Paris La Défense for the final stage, the 2022 Tour de France is set to have its lowest number of finishers in 22 years.

The latest retirements came on the morning of Stage 21, as Israel-Premier Tech rider Michael Woods is a non-runner after testing positive for COVID-19 in cruel timing for the Canadian.

His team-mate Guillaume Boivin was also retired due to illness, while Team Movistar rider Gorka Izagirre quit the race to contest his home race on Monday, the Ordiziako Klasika.

COVID-19 has had a bigger impact on the Tour de France than its last two editions, with 18 dropping out due to the virus, including four-time winner Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech), Enric Mas (Movistar Team), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) and stage winners Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education-EasyPost) and Simon Clarke.

Some of the strongest teams in the race were impacted. Tadej Pogačar’s UAE Team Emirates roster has been weakened by two positives from his squad, with George Bennett and Vegard Stake Laengen forced to leave.

Only four of the 22 teams in the race are expected to finish with a full squad of eight riders: B&B Hotels-KTM, Groupama-FDJ, Ineos Grenadiers and Intermarché-Wanty Gobert-Materials.

As usual, accidents and other illnesses/injuries were significant factors in further dropouts. Jumbo-Visma, the team with the most stage wins in the race, had crash-related withdrawals for Steven Kruijswijk and Primož Roglič.

The hot temperature and fast average speed, said to be the fastest in race history, also added to the attrition rate. For comparison, the 2021 edition had 141 finishers.

22 years since fewer finishers

For a lower number of finishes, you have to go back to the 2000 Tour de France. There were 127 official finishers, as sprinter Jeroen Blijlevens was disqualified after crossing the line for a fight with Bobby Julich.

The two youngest competitors in this year’s edition, American duo Quinn Simmons and Kevin Vermaerke, weren’t even born when this race took place.

The expected figure of 137 graduates is, however, a slight misnomer. This is the lowest number in 22 years, but until the 2018 Tour de France each team had nine starters instead of eight in the modern era, so there was a greater total number of competitors.

Consequently, the percentage of retirements was slightly higher in 2007, when there were 49 retirements out of a field of 190 starters.

Whatever the statistics say, it is always a significant achievement and an immense satisfaction to finish the Tour de France for any professional cyclist.