La Toussuire - Dutch team Vacansoeil suffered Tour de France woes on Thursday after two of their riders, Lieuwe Westra and Rob Ruijgh, pulled out of the race.
The Dutchmen retired shortly after beginning the 25.3km ascension of the Madeleine, one of several big climbs on the 148km 11th stage in the Alps from Albertville to La Toussuire.
It has been dubbed the 'Queen' mountain stage because of its difficulty.
Before the start Fabian Cancellara pulled out to be with his expectant wife, his RadioShack team announced.
Cancellara wore the yellow jersey for a week after winning the opening prologue on June 30, but with his wife expecting to give birth in the coming days the Swiss decided to end his campaign early.
Vanasoleil's two abandons means that 172 of the race's 198 starters remain.
The Tour finishes in Paris on July 22.