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Baby blue race rocket with lots of neat touches
The Alpe d'Huez was absolute mayhem with fans.
Vino on Fuglsang, chasing Pantani and more
Jens Voigt animated the early break on stage 18, at age 41, showing no signs of slowing down.
"I don’t know – maybe plain stupidity!" the RadioShack Leopard veteran responded when asked why he continues to fight for victory. "Maybe I just look at each stage as a one-day race and don’t think about the next day. I was pretty much all in today. It was good for awhile but then Saxo wanted to protect their team GC so they made the race hard behind us. Also the guys in the front were doing silly things by causing all the splits instead of riding together and then going hard on the last climb. It was a good try but now I’m really tired."
Voigt eventually finished the stage 15:34 down on stage winner, Christophe Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale). The last kilometres he said, were simply about getting through.
"I was thinking about a nice warm shower and some food; maybe the last song I heard on my headphones. Definitely not about Einstein and his theories."
Hansen enjoys some Dutch hospitality
"Who said I did not have fun today?" That was the question from Adam Hansen via the Lotto Belisol rider's twitter feed following stage 18.
Hansen linked to a photo on the nieuwsblad website showing him happily wielding a cup of beer as he rode through Dutch Corner. The site was hopeful that the Giro d'Italia stage winner had not drunk any of the amber liquid "in that case he may have to abandon tomorrow sick."
Vinokourov tipping sixth overall for Fuglsang
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) showed considerable staying power on the second ascent up Alpe d'Huez, the Dane fighting his way into the top-10 placings for the stage tagging onto the back of Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi). The result meant that Fuglsang was elevated another place overall, to 7th but Astana boss Alexandre Vinokourov is hopeful that the 28-year-old can go one better.
"I am pleased with today's result," Vinokourov told ekstrabladet.dk. "It is a good result, because he advanced one place in the standings, and he is very close to sixth place."
Bauke Mollema (Belkin) is the man standing in the way of Fuglsang improving his position, with just 35 seconds separating the pair. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is another three minutes ahead of the Dutchman, but Vinokourov believes such a leap might be too much to ask.
"I am happy for Jakob and the team's effort," said Vinkourov. "He is getting stronger by the day, and maybe tomorrow, he can gain another position in the standings.
"I'm not surprised, because I believe in him. But if Jakob can finish in the top five, I'd be surprised."
Riblon v Pantani
With plenty of comparisons made to the past this Tour de France, L'Equipe logged the times of the final ascent up Alpe d'Huez on Thursday. The record is still held by Marco Pantani at 36:50 and the Italian set that back in 1995.
The rider closest to Pantani's record, was Nairo Quintana (Movistar) who finished fifth across the finish line. Here's how they ranked on stage 18.
1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 0:39:49
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) 0:39:52
3. Richie Porte (Sky) 0:40:55
4. Christopher Froome (Sky) 0:40:55
5. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 0:40:59
6. Alberto Contador (Saxo) 0:41:52
9. Roman Kreuziger (Saxo) 0:42:08
13. Christophe Riblon (AG2R) 0:43:01
21. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) 0:43:50
McEwen, Bol hit out at 'fans' on Dutch Corner
There was no shortage of idiots on Alpe d'Huez running along side riders in mankinis and generally making a pest of themselves but Orica GreenEdge sprint adviser Robbie McEwen also had a few choice words for a small element within Dutch Corner on turn seven.
"To the small minority of 'fans' in Dutch corner - you have disgraced yourselves & your country. Booing & obstructing riders. Sad," the three-time maillot vert tweeted.
Belkin rider, Jetse Bol, was also unimpressed.
"Once a year the football fans get together to boo riders instead of yelling at each other. Okay..." the Dutchman tweeted.