Tour de France 2015

July 4-26, 2015, Utrecht (ITT), France, Road - WorldTour

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Barry Ryan

Live coverage of stage 18 of the Tour de France, 186.5 kilometres from Gap to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

  1. 11:44:51 CEST

    The second of four successive days in the high Alps, stage 18 may lack a summit finish but it is no less spectacular for it. There are no fewer than seven categorised climbs on the menu, including the mighty, hors categorie Col du Glandon, and the short but spectacular Lacets de Montvernier in the finale, which boasts some 18 hairpin bends in the space of just 3.4 kilometres. The summit comes just 10 kilometres from the finish in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to boot.

  2. 11:48:12 CEST

    The climbs on today's menu are as follows:

    6.5km - Col Bayard, 6.3 km at 7% - category 2
    35.5km - Rampe du Motty, 2.3 km at 8.3% - category 3
    60.5km - Côte de la Mure, 2.7 km at 7.5% - category 3
    70.5km - Col de Malissol, 2 km at 8.7% - category 3
    85.0km - Col de la Morte, 3.1 km at 8.4% - category 2
    147.0km - Col du Glandon, 21.7 km at 5.1% - HC
    176.5km - Lacets de Montvernier, 3.4 km at 8.2% - category 2
     

  3. 11:49:32 CEST

    The general classification picture looks like this ahead of the day's action:

    1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 69:06:49
    2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:10
    3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:09
    4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:06:34
    5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:06:40
    6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:07:39
    7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:08:04
    8 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:08:47
    9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 0:11:47
    10 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:13:08

     

  4. 11:50:35 CEST

    The mountains classification looks like this:

    1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 61 pts
    2 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 52
    3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 41
    4 Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN - Qhubeka 40
    5 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 40
    6 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 38
    7 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 34
    8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 32
    9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 32
    10 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 28

  5. 11:51:45 CEST

    Peter Sagan, meanwhile, has an essentially unassailable lead in the points competition:

    1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo 420 pts
    2 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 316
    3 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin 281
    4 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx - Quick-Step 192
    5 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar 122
    6 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 109
    7 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step 78
    8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 77
    9 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal 76
    10 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 70

  6. 11:54:04 CEST

    There were no fewer than six abandons on yesterday's first outing in the Alps, including Tour debutants Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18).

    Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) joins their number this morning. The South African battled to make it inside the time cut yesterday but, struggling with illness, Meintjes will not start today.

  7. 11:56:07 CEST

    The most high-profile abandon of all, of course, was Tejay van Garderen (BMC), who dramatically pulled out on the Col de la Colle, suffering with a respiratory illness. You can read his immediate reaction here, and we will have more van Garderen shortly, as he reflects on his Tour exit 24 hours on.

  8. 11:59:13 CEST

    Today's neutralised start is at 12:10 local time, with the peloton set to reach kilometre zero at 12:20, before facing immediately into the Col Bayard. The gruppetto could form early today.

  9. 12:16:54 CEST

    The peloton is negotiating the neutralised zone before the flag drops for the start of stage 18. The temperature in Gap is 28 degrees as they set out.

  10. 12:26:44 CEST

    Bauke Mollema (Trek) - 9th at 11:47 - was among the riders who performed a warm-up on the road rather than on the rollers ahead of the start. The opening hour of racing could be brutal today.

  11. 186km remaining from 186.5km

    12:29:09 CEST

    The flag drops at the foot of the Col Bayard (6.3 km at 7%) and immediately Pierre Rolland (Europcar) accelerates. He is joined promptly by Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Julian Arredondon (Trek).

  12. 12:31:23 CEST

    • Red Polka Dot Jersey

    With Froome ensconced in the maillot jaune, Rodriguez is wearing the polka dots of king of the mountains on his behalf today, and he clearly has designs on earning the jersey in his own right before this Tour is out.

  13. 183km remaining from 186.5km

    12:33:16 CEST

    Rodriguez, Rolland and Arredondo have a lead of 35 seconds over the peloton, with Jacques Janse van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka) caught somewhere in between.

  14. 12:41:55 CEST

    A group of some 16 riders is bridging up towards Rodriguez, Rolland and Arredondo on the upper reaches of the Bayard, though the peloton is just 25 seconds behind them.

  15. 178km remaining from 186.5km

    12:47:55 CEST

    After Rodriguez leads over the top of the Bayard, the chasers catch the three leaders to form a front group of 19 riders. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin), Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) are among their number.

  16. 175km remaining from 186.5km

    12:51:14 CEST

    That group has since swelled to 29 riders, with Winner Anacona (Movistar) and Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Cannondale) reportedly amongst them. There is no Sky rider in that front group, however. After being left - relatively - isolated in yesterday's finale having allowed Nicolas Roche and Richie Porte up the road early on, Froome has plenty of numbers around him in the main bunch here.

  17. 12:55:52 CEST

    The full list of 29 escapees is as follows:

    Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Romain Bardet, Jan Bakelants, Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Roman Kreuziger, Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo), Winner Anacona, Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar), Damiano Caruso, Rohan Dennis (BMC), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Michael Matthews, Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Pierre Rolland, Cyril Gautier, Romain Sicard, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Julian Arredondo, Bob Jungels (Trek), Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida), Andrew Talansky, Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin), Stef Clement (IAM Cycling), Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) and Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka).

  18. 170km remaining from 186.5km

    13:00:48 CEST

    The 29 escapees have a lead of 1:35 over the peloton as they trundle along the Route Napoleon. The Col du Noyer, where Luis Ocaña dropped Eddy Merckx en route to  victory at Orcières-Merlette is just off to their left, but mercifully for them, the climb does not feature on this year's route. Instead, Fuglsang, Rodriguez, Rolland, Martin et al will follow the course of the Drac river for now, and head towards the day's second ascent, the Rampe du Motty.

  19. 163km remaining from 186.5km

    13:04:53 CEST

    The average speed has been a brisk 40kph thus far, though the pace has knocked off in the main peloton in last five kilometres or so, and the gap to the break has stretched out to 3:30.

  20. 13:12:29 CEST

    Quintana and Valverde have two teammates in the break in Anacona and Castroviejo. Contador has Kreuziger and Rogers up the road, while Vincenzo Nibali has Astana teammate Jakob Fuglsang as an emissary out in front.

  21. 13:15:17 CEST

    • Movistar Team 2015 team jersey

    Froome has appeared invulnerable thus far on summit finishes, having dealt comfortably with the attacks on his jersey at Plateau de Beille and Pra Loup, as well as at Mende. Movistar have reason, then, to look to be inventive in the few days that remain in this race. The question, of course, is whether Quintana and Valverde feel they can genuinely discommode Froome, or whether they are already happy simply to finish second and third in Paris.

  22. 13:19:02 CEST

    • Team Europcar 2015 team jersey

    Another team with numbers in this break is Europcar. Jean-René Bernaudeau's squad is still without a sponsor for 2016 and its riders are free to look for other squads from August 1. Rolland, Voeckler, Gautier and Sicard will all surely find new homes regardless, but the Tour is the biggest shop window of them all nonetheless...

  23. 151km remaining from 186.5km

    13:20:12 CEST

    The 29 leaders approach the summit of the day's second climb, the category 3 Rampe du Motty (2/3km at 8.3%) with a lead of 3:55 over the main peloton.

  24. 13:24:23 CEST

    • Red Polka Dot Jersey

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) leads the break over the Rampe du Motty to close to within two points of Froome's lead atop the king of the mountains classification.

  25. 13:31:02 CEST

    The main peloton reaches the same point some 4:50 down on the 29 leaders. The next climb on the agenda is the category 3 Côte de la Mure (2.7km at 7.5%) in around 25 kilometres' time.

  26. 13:37:22 CEST

    • BMC Racing 2015 team jersey

    A disappointed Tejay van Garderen (BMC) visited the start of the stage in Gap this morning to speak to the media one day after abandoning the Tour through illness while lying in third place overall. "The hardest part was when I was getting in the bus. I got there before my teammates and I was sitting there and decompressing and thinking ‘okay that just happened’ but when my teammates came on the bus and I had to look them in the eye, that just killed me," van Garderen said. You can read the full story here.

  27. 137km remaining from 186.5km

    13:40:05 CEST

    • Giant Alpecin 2015 team jersey

    Sky appear to have found an unexpected ally of circumstance at the head of the peloton as Giant-Alpecin begin to work. Georg Preidler may be in the break, but so too are 11th-placed Romain Bardet, 12th-placed Andrew Talansky and 14th-placed Pierre Rolland, who are all putting Warren Barguil's place in the top ten overall at risk.

  28. 136km remaining from 186.5km

    13:42:40 CEST

    The gap, incidentally, is five minutes flat, which means that - provisionally, of course - Bardet and Talansky have moved ahead of Barguil on GC, hence the injection of urgency from his Giant-Alpecin team.

  29. 13:50:02 CEST

    • Trek Factory Racing 2015 team jersey

    Trek Factory Racing join Giant-Alpecin at the head of the bunch, with Bauke Mollema's 9th place overall in mind.

  30. 132km remaining from 186.5km

    13:51:52 CEST

    • Attack

    At the head of the race, meanwhile, Rohan Dennis (BMC) has opted to attack alone in the valley before the Côte de la Mure. The Australian has opened a small gap over the rest of the break, which remains five minutes up on the peloton.

  31. 13:59:32 CEST

    Dennis' attack fizzles out on the slopes of the Cote de La Mure, where the 29 riders at the front maintain that five-minute advantage over a peloton that is being propelled by Trek and Giant-Alpecin, under the supervision of Team Sky.

  32. 126km remaining from 186.5km

    14:01:03 CEST

    • Climb

    As expected, Joaquim Rodriguez draws level with Froome in the king of the mountains classification by leading over the top of the Côte de la Mure. The Catalan has brought his tally up to 61 points.

     

  33. 14:04:00 CEST

    • Attack

    Rodriguez continues his effort over the top of the climb and his acceleration brings Fuglsang, De Gendt, Pauwels and Voeckler with him. After a short descent, they will face immediately into the Col de Malissol (2km at 8.7%). Rodriguez must feel the break has hit suitable terrain for a refining process of sorts.

  34. 121km remaining from 186.5km

    14:05:41 CEST

    Stef Clement makes its across on the descent to form a six-man leading group at the head of the race. They are 17 seconds clear of their erstwhile companions in the early break, while the bunch trails at 4:40.

  35. 14:13:34 CEST

    The Rodriguez splinter group is brought to heel ahead of the Col de Malissol. The lead group is 29-strong once again, and holds an advantage of 5:25 over the main peloton.

  36. 116km remaining from 186.5km

    14:15:52 CEST

    Rodriguez accelerates once again as the break approaches the summit of the Col de Malissol. The Katusha man is about to move into the outright lead at the head of the king of the mountains competition.

     

  37. 14:18:42 CEST

    • Climb

    Rodriguez leads Serge Pauwels over the Col de Malissol. A short descent follows before the category 2 Col de la Morte, which is a little less frightening than it sounds, though with an average gradient of 8.4% over 3 kilometres, it might well break up this 29-man group.

  38. 110km remaining from 186.5km

    14:25:39 CEST

    Trek and Giant-Alpecin continue their work at the head of the main peloton, and their combined efforts have pegged the break's lead back within five minutes. Froome and his Sky delegation are lined up just behind them, while Tinkoff-Saxo and Astana retain a watching a brief for Contador and Nibali.

  39. 14:31:50 CEST

    • Movistar Team 2015 team jersey

    Despite being unable to claw back so much as a second from Chris Froome since the Tour entered the mountains, Nairo Quintana struck a defiant note after yesterday's stage to Pra Loup, noting that he felt his efforts have taken their toll on the Sky team. "Tomorrow’s stage [today] will be very complicated and the finish in La Toussuire is a course that suits me, it is all day up and down, with major climbs that are very hard and very long. Alpe d’Huez is a fairly long climb and the slope suits my abilities. There is terrain to bring the battle," Quintana said. You can read the full story here.

  40. 104km remaining from 186.5km

    14:37:18 CEST

    Pierre Rolland leads the 29-man break on the slopes of the Col de la Morte. Their lead has been shaved back a little more, and it now stands at 3:54. Thibaut Pinot sits towards the rear of the group, though he seems to be pedalling relatively comfortably.

  41. 102.5km remaining from 186.5km

    14:42:17 CEST

    There have been no frissons among the 29 leaders on the Col de la Morte. Thomas De Gendt taps out a steady tempo on the front as they enter the final kilometre and the group has shed no passengers on the way up. Rodriguez will doubtless zip away in due course to pick up the mountains points at the summit.

  42. 101km remaining from 186.5km

    14:44:55 CEST

    Joaquim Rodriguez duly leads over the Col de la Morte ahead of Jakob Fuglsang. The Catalan has picked up maximum points in the king of the mountains competition thus far today, though the greatest bounty of all lies atop the next climb, the Col du Glandon.

  43. 14:52:05 CEST

    The break is on the long drop off the Col de la Morte as far as the sprint at Riouperoux with 79 kilometres remaining. The road is already climbing at that point, though the ascent of the Col du Glandon doesn't begin officially until after the Viaduc de l'Eau d'Olle with 64 kilometres remaining. The Glandon is 21.7km in length at an average gradient of 5.1%.

  44. 14:53:51 CEST

    Giant-Alpecin lead the peloton on the way down the Col de la Morte. Four days from Paris, many teams are already looking to hold what they have. The big question is whether Movistar are among their number. Will Eusebio Unzue's squad race to retain their two podium berths, or will they take risks in the hope of putting Chris Froome in difficulty?

  45. 85km remaining from 186.5km

    15:02:03 CEST

    The 29-man break has fragmented slightly on this long descent off the Col de la Morte. Pinot, Fuglsang, Gautier and Rolland are among those at the front, but Thomas De Gendt is pacing the remnants back up to them.

  46. 82km remaining from 186.5km

    15:07:41 CEST

    The break is back together as they end the descent and hit the false flat before the intermediate sprint at Rioupéroux. This long drag is, to all intents and purposing, the beckoning antechamber to the Col du Glandon itself, and we can expect the group to be whittled down to more manageable numbers shortly, perhaps even before the climb proper begins.

  47. 79km remaining from 186.5km

    15:11:01 CEST

    Thomas De Gendt accelerates ahead of the intermediate sprint to pick up maximum points. The Belgian continues with his effort after crossing the line, in the hope of attracting a group of willing collaborators with him.

  48. 15:19:33 CEST

    De Gendt's effort has split the breakaway group. Fuglsang, Rodriguez, Dennis, Talansky, Voeckler, Clement, Anacona and Dan Martin have joined him and they have 25 seconds over the rest of the break.

  49. 72km remaining from 186.5km

    15:20:45 CEST

    Ag2r-La Mondiale have missed out in this split, and they are trying to bring the group back together. The peloton continues to trail at 3:25.

  50. 69km remaining from 186.5km

    15:27:30 CEST

    Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) is still unhappy with the level of collaboration in this reduced front group, and he takes off alone once again just as the two parts of the early break look set to merge once again.

  51. 67km remaining from 186.5km

    15:29:45 CEST

    De Gendt opens a lead of 25 seconds over the rest of the breakaway group, which has reformed behind but is struggling to organise itself. The peloton, meanwhile, is at 2:48.

  52. 65km remaining from 186.5km

    15:31:32 CEST

    De Gendt is already climbing even though the Col du Glandon proper has yet to begin. The summit, incidentally, comes with 39 kilometres remaining - there is a long, long haul ahead of the Belgian.

  53. 15:38:05 CEST

    Thomas De Gendt is pegged back and now Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) takes up the reins on the front of the break. The Canadian's pace-making is beginning to whittle down the escape, with Ruben Plaza and the TInkoff-Saxo duo of Kreuziger and Rogers among the riders to be jettisoned out the back.

  54. 60km remaining from 186.5km

    15:42:03 CEST

    Hesjedal swings off as the Glandon proper begins. Fuglsang, Rolland, Talansky, Martin, Pauwels, Pinot, Gautier, Anacona, Bardet, Jungels and Dennis have forged clear from the break. Behind that elite eleven, the remants are scattered in ones and twos and unlikely to get back up.

  55. 59km remaining from 186.5km

    15:43:25 CEST

    And then there were ten. An injection of pace from Fuglsang does for Thibaut Pinot, who sits down heavily and shakes his head slowly. The Frenchman will not be in the shake-up for stage victory today.

  56. 58km remaining from 186.5km

    15:47:13 CEST

    Dan Martin has also been dropped by the leading group, which is now paced by Joaquim Rodriguez. The Catalan has Fuglsang, Bardet, Anacona, Damiano Caruso, Rolland, Gautier, Jungels, Talansky and Pauwels for company.

  57. 15:48:28 CEST

    Back in the peloton, meanwhile, Sky have taken up the reins and the size of the yellow jersey group appears to have been reduced considerably in the early kilometres of the Glandon.

  58. 15:50:18 CEST

    Pinot has ridden out the early storm on the Glandon, settled into a rhythm and pegged his way back up to the group of leaders. A number of the dropped riders, including Thomas De Gendt and Arredondo, have already been picked off by the yellow jersey group.

  59. 56km remaining from 186.5km

    15:53:20 CEST

    Fuglsang sets the tempo on the front of the 11-man leading group with more than ten miles of climbing between them and the summit of the Col du Glandon. Pinot is not pedalling with the same assurance he showed on the Allos yesterday but he is hanging on in there for now.

  60. 15:54:25 CEST

    • Team Sky 2015 team jersey

    Nicolas Roche, riding in support of Chris Froome, leads the yellow jersey group=. The pace is sensible for the time being. There is still a long, long way to the summit.

  61. 15:56:43 CEST

    Out in front, Bob Jungels takes over as the break hits a brief downhill section on the Glandon. They retain a lead of 2:30 over the Sky-led peloton.

  62. 15:57:45 CEST

    Nicolas Roche continues to lead the yellow jersey group, which has been thinned down to 25 riders or so and has just swept up Michael Matthews, another man dropped from the early break.

  63. 52.5km remaining from 186.5km

    15:59:37 CEST

    Pinot begins to lose ground once again as Jungels forces the pace at the head of the break. This time it looks terminal for Pinot, who is visibly struggling, the weight of yesterday's labours still in his legs.

  64. 16:00:31 CEST

    Talansky and Pauwels are also distanced by the front group, though the American is battling gamely to remain just about within touching distance.

  65. 16:01:46 CEST

    Jungels leads Fuglsand, Rodriguez, Bardet, Gautier, Rolland and Anacona at the head of the race. After a big effort, Talansky manages to rejoin their number.

  66. 50.5km remaining from 186.5km

    16:07:43 CEST

    We have ten riders left at the front of the race, and they have nudged their advantage back up slightly to 3:23 over the yellow jersey group. A reminder of the names in this break: Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka), Bob Jungels (Trek), Winner Anacona (Movistar), Cyril Gautier, Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Damiano Caruso (BMC), Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin).

  67. 16:09:23 CEST

    Froome still has Wouter Poels, Nicolas Roche, Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas and Leopold Konig for company at the front of the yellow jersey group with a little more than 10 kilometres of the Col du Glandon remaining.

  68. 16:11:46 CEST

    Thibaut Pinot's ill-starred Tour in microcosm - the Frenchman is caught and passed by Thomas Voeckler on the Col du Glandon as he throttles back and waits for the yellow jersey group.

  69. 16:13:28 CEST

    Bob Jungels has put in a very impressive stint of pace-making on the upper reaches of the Glandon, and his efforts have helped the break buttress their lead to 3:35 over the yellow jersey group.

  70. 48km remaining from 186.5km

    16:14:42 CEST

    Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) is the first man to attack from the yellow jersey group, shortly after Pinot has been caught and passed. Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling) and Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) both set off in pursuit.

  71. 16:16:12 CEST

    The injection in pace has proved too much for Richie Porte, who sits up and is dropped by the yellow jersey group.  Wouter Poels is distanced almost immediately afterwards. Froome has just Roche, Konig and Thomas around him now, with Quintana and Valverde lined up just behind.

  72. 46.5km remaining from 186.5km

    16:18:41 CEST

    Frank, Gesink and Barguil have a small lead over the yellow jersey group, where Nicolas Roche looks to maintain a steady tempo at the front.

  73. 16:20:57 CEST

    • Attack

    Alberto Contador accelerates from the yellow jersey group and immediately opens a small gap. Quintana considered following but thought better of it. For now, there has been no reaction from Sky, who seem convinced that Contador will wear himself out before the summit.

  74. 16:22:04 CEST

    A grimacing Contador has opened a lead of 20 seconds over the Froome group and is in the process of bridging across to Barguil, Frank and Gesink.

  75. 16:22:59 CEST

    Out at the front, meanwhile, Ryder Hesjedal has somehow managed to ride his way back up to the break. The leaders have 3:06 in hand on the Froome group with five kilometres to go to the summit of the Glandon.

  76. 16:24:54 CEST

    Contador has bridged across to the Barguil group, and they have a lead of 40 seconds over the yellow jersey group. Sky have paid the move no heed as yet, with Nicolas Roche continuing to set a steady tempo behind.

  77. 42km remaining from 186.5km

    16:26:23 CEST

    Fuglsang drives the leading group as they approach the final 2.5 kilometres before the top of the Col du Glandon. Contador, Barguil, Gesink and Frank follow at 2:22, while the Froome group is at 3:06.

  78. 16:28:06 CEST

    Fuglsang, Bardet and Rolland forge ahead approaching the top of the Glandon, but Hesjedal is dragging the rest of the break back up to them once again.

  79. 16:28:48 CEST

    Contador, meanwhile, is tapping out a decent tempo at the head of the chasing group. They are two minutes down on the leaders but a minute up on Froome, Quintana, Valverde and Nibali.

  80. 16:31:07 CEST

    • Crash

    Jakob Fuglsang has crashed on the upper reaches of the Col du Glandon. It's difficult to tell from the television pictures precisely how the Dane fell. He swung out to the left-hand side of the road and looked over his shoulder before hitting the ground. It's not clear if he clipped a passing motorbike or if he fell by himself, but in any case, his hopes of stage victory are perhaps over.

  81. 16:31:41 CEST

    Back in the yellow jersey group, meanwhile, Fuglsang's teammate Nibali has accelerated and jumped clear.

  82. 16:32:18 CEST

    Valverde, Quintana and Froome zoom across to Nibali's wheel almost instantly. Thomas and Scarponi are in this increasingly elite yellow jersey group too...

  83. 39.5km remaining from 186.5km

    16:33:01 CEST

    Approaching the top of the Glandon, Romain Bardet and Winner Anacona are clear in front, while Fuglsang has forced his way back into the chasing group.

  84. 16:34:07 CEST

    Nibali attacks again inside the final kilometre of the Glandon. Only Quintana can follow immediately, but Thomas paces Froome, Valverde and Scarponi back up to him. These accelerations have slashed the lead of the Contador group.

  85. 16:35:06 CEST

    Contador leads Barguil, Frank, Gesink and Ruben Plaza over the top of the Glandon with a deficit of 2:23 to Bardet and Anacona.

  86. 16:35:57 CEST

    Nibali, Froome, Quintana, Thomas and Scarponi cross the summit at 2:38. Valverde was distanced on the final ramps of the Glandon, and he chases the small yellow jersey group over the top in the company of Bauke Mollema (Trek).

  87. 16:38:50 CEST

    Romain Bardet has put a little distance into Winner Anacona at the head of the race on the early corners of the descent of the Glandon. The Frenchman is clealry looking to replicate his dare-devil showing on the way down the Col d'Allos during the Dauphine last month.

  88. 16:41:01 CEST

    The Contador and Froome groups have merged on the way down the Glandon, while Valverde is closing in on their coattails to boot. Mollema, however, is unable to match Valverde's pace on this descent.

  89. 31km remaining from 186.5km

    16:42:07 CEST

    Bardet has put daylight between himself and the rest of the early break. He is 25 seconds clear of Rodriguez, Fuglsang, Talansky, Anacona et al. It's all or nothing for the Frenchman at this point.

  90. 16:43:26 CEST

    Valverde and Samuel Sanchez, meanwhile, have latched back on to the yellow jersey group, which seems destined to enjoy a shoot-out on the spectacular road up the Lacets de Montvernier before the final plunge into Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

  91. 28km remaining from 186.5km

    16:45:52 CEST

    Bardet is not taking enormous risks on the way down the Glandon, but he's doing enough to maintain his 20-second lead over the chasers, who are being led down the descent by Bob Jungels.

  92. 25km remaining from 186.5km

    16:47:17 CEST

    Joaquim Rodriguez has sat up on the descent and been swallowed up by the yellow jersey group. Bardet remains out in front, 20 seconds clear of the chasers and 2:37 up on Froome, Contador, Quintana et al.

  93. 22km remaining from 186.5km

    16:52:18 CEST

    Bardet has extended his lead over the remnants of the break to 40 seconds as he approaches the base of the descent of the Glandon. The Lacets de Montvernier lie between the Frenchman and stage victory.

  94. 20km remaining from 186.5km

    16:54:09 CEST

    Rolland, Fuglsang, Jungels, Talansky, Anacona, Gautier, Pauwels and Damiano Caruso are the eight riders giving chase to Bardet. They are 40 seconds down as they enter the final 20 kilometres, and they'll need to find a working agreement quickly if they are to peg back Bardet.

  95. 18km remaining from 186.5km

    16:56:18 CEST

    The chalkboard tells Bardet that his buffer is 40 seconds over the chasers and 2:51 over the yellow jersey group. He faces a testing false flat before the climb of the Lacets de Montvernier proper, 3.4km at 8.2%.

  96. 17:09:16 CEST

    This really is a beautiful climb. Its making its debut in the Tour

  97. 17:10:15 CEST

    Bardet's lead ducks below 40 seconds. This is going to be a tough ask given the 10km to the line after the climb. There is a descent but then flattens out.

     

  98. 17:13:03 CEST

    Cyril Gautier puts the pressure on Bardet and then Fuglesang does a big turn on the front of what is now a four-man chase group. Jungels and Anacona are also there.

  99. 17:13:42 CEST

    The yellow jersey group is all together at the moment, 2:44 behind Bardet. 

     

  100. 17:14:45 CEST

    Nibble attacks! Valverde gets on his wheel, Contador behind, then Thomas, Quintana Froome. 

     

  101. 17:16:25 CEST

    Warren Barguil is off the back with Bauke Mollema and the Frenchman gives his companion a sarcastic thumbs up as Mollema just sits on on the upper slopes of this climb. 

  102. 5.5km remaining from 186.5km

    17:18:08 CEST

    Pierre Rolland has set off in lone pursuit of Bardet but he won't make up this 45-second deficit in the final five kilometres.

  103. 4km remaining from 186.5km

    17:19:34 CEST

    Bardet almost comes a cropper on sweeping left-hander but he stays upright and is set for stage victory. Barguil and Mollema, meanwhile, are some 25 seconds behind that select yellow jersey group.

  104. 2.5km remaining from 186.5km

    17:21:20 CEST

    The yellow jersey group is almost three minutes down and content, it seems, to play out a score draw this afternoon before renewing hostilities on the long road to La Toussuire tomorrow.

  105. 2km remaining from 186.5km

    17:22:17 CEST

    Bardet enters the final two kilometres with 40 seconds in hand on Rolland. After a troubled start to this race, the Frenchman is about to put a very different slant on his Tour with a victory of considerable panache.

  106. 17:22:46 CEST

    Barguil, meanwhile, has edged his way back up to the yellow jersey group, but Mollema looks set to lose a handful of seconds.

  107. 1km remaining from 186.5km

    17:23:27 CEST

    Into the final kilometre for Romain Bardet, who knows victory can't elude him now.

  108. 17:24:01 CEST

    Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) wins stage 18 of the Tour de France.

  109. 17:25:10 CEST

    Pierre Rolland (Europcar) has to settle for second place after his late lone pursuit. Winner Anacona (Movistar) out-sprints Bob Jungels and Jakob Fuglsang for third.

  110. 17:26:51 CEST

    The yellow jersey group is in the streets of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and there will be no change in the very upper reaches of the general classification this evening.

  111. 17:27:38 CEST

    Barguil leads Froome, Quintana, Valverde et al across the line at 3:02. Mollema concedes 18 seconds to the rest of the top 10 as he comes home 3:20 behind.

  112. 17:30:42 CEST

    Result:

    1 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 05:03:40
    2 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 00:00:33
    3 Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar Team 00:00:59
    4 Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing
    5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
    6 Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN - Qhubeka 00:01:01
    7 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar 00:01:50
    8 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team
    9 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 00:01:55
    10 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin 00:03:02

  113. 17:32:07 CEST

    • AG2R La Mondiale 2015 team jersey

    "I knew the finale from the Dauphiné as well so I knew it by heart," Romain Bardet says before mounting the podium. "The hardest part of the stage was to get into the break in the first kilometres. It was very hard and very fast early, but I had to get through that to get into this position. It was like being in a football stadium at the end, there was so much noise."

  114. 17:32:29 CEST

    General classification after stage 18:

    1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 74:13:31
    2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:03:10
    3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:04:09
    4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 00:06:34
    5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:06:40
    6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 00:07:39
    7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:08:04
    8 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling 00:08:47
    9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 00:12:06
    10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:13:02

  115. 17:35:27 CEST

    Bardet's stage victory is also enough to lift him into the top ten on general classification - ahead of Warren Barguil, which also makes him the best-placed Frenchman.

  116. 17:43:34 CEST

    Bardet led over the Glandon and the Lacets de Montvernier, meaning that he draws level with Joaquim Rodriguez atop the king of the mountains classification, though the Catalan will wear the jersey tomorrow by dint of his better record on hors categorie climbs.

  117. 17:50:44 CEST

    • Team Sky 2015 team jersey

    The anticipated onslaught from Movistar never materialised, while Froome and Sky dealt relatively comfortably with the attacks of Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali. "It’s hard to control things in these mountains," said directeur sportif Nicolas Portal. "The Glandon is very hard but I think the team did very well to hold off the attacks that were made against us. We did well to weather the storm."

  118. 17:57:59 CEST

    Result:

    1 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 5:03:40
    2 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:33
    3 Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:59
    4 Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing
    5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
    6 Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN - Qhubeka 0:01:01
    7 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar 0:01:50
    8 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team
    9 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:55
    10 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:03:02

    General classification:

    1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 74:13:31
    2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:10
    3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:09
    4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:06:34
    5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:06:40
    6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:07:39
    7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:08:04
    8 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:08:47
    9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 0:12:06
    10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:13:02
     

  119. 18:01:11 CEST

    Thanks for joining today's live coverage from the Tour de France. We'll be back with more tomorrow on the road from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire, as the peloton takes on the Col du Chaussy, the Col de la Croix de Fer and the Col du Mollard before the 18km haul to the finish. In the meantime, you can find a full report, results and pictures from today's stage here. We'll also have all the news from today's stage, and our team in the Alps is also working on the latest instalment of the Cyclingnews Tour de France Podcast, sponsored by Eurosport.

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