Gallopin pulls out, adds to Bardet's Tour woes

Tony Gallopin dropped out of the Tour on Thursday reducing AG2R to five riders

The Tour de France hopes of Frenchman Romain Bardet suffered another setback on Friday after AG2R teammate Tony Gallopin pulled out during the gruelling 12th stage to Alpe d'Huez.

Bardet, who finished runner-up to Chris Froome in 2016 and in 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 organisers said: "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 on this 105th edition of the race, AG2R are now down to five riders -- leaving Bardet with comparatively scant support for the remaining mountain stages in the Pyrenees next week.

At the start of Thursday's 175.5 km 12th stage from Bourg Saint Maurice to Alpe d'Huez, Bardet sat in eighth overall at 2min 58sec behind overnight leader Geraint Thomas of Team Sky.

Sky leader Froome, who is aiming for a fourth consecutive Grand Tour win having won the Tour of Spain in 2017 and the 2018 Giro d'Italia, is second overall at 1:25.