History of abandons at the Tour de France

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Data visualisations by Chris Jensen

The first rest day of the Tour de France is upon us and you might have noticed an abnormally low number of competitors abandoning in the first week. Typically, the first week of the Tour de France has fans and riders in a flurry of protest with unsafe conditions and abnormal mishaps that cause many competitors to leave the race early.

We took a look back at the past 20 years of data to see just how much of an anomaly 2016 is in this regard. And yes, it certainly is an anomaly. Michael Morkov (Katusha) has become the first rider to abandon at this year’s Tour in stage 8 because of injuries sustained in a crash on stage 1. The number of abandons each year could be due to anything from geography, weather, or nerves in the bunch. This year’s Grand Depart began in Normandy (yes, a Tour de France that started in France) on flat roads and fast sprint finishes which isn’t unique and doesn’t explain much, but it’s a welcome change to see most of the riders still in the race.

Here are some takeaways from the data we have over the past 20 years:

– 2016 is off to a record low rate of abandons (Why? Who knows…)  
– Next lowest in the dataset through the first 8 stages is the 1999 TdF with only 4 abandons  
– 1998, (the Festina Affair) really stands out like a sore thumb
– There are typically between 25-50 abandons by the time the Tour reaches Paris 
– The rate of abandons significantly drops off in the final few stages when the riders start to think about the Champs-Élysées 

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