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Tour de France 2016: Stage 18

Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 18 of the Tour de France. Today it's the second individual time trial of the race - a 17km test from Sallanches to Megève.

 

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 Hello, I didn't see you come in there. Welcome to our live coverage from stage 18 of the Tour de France. We're still the Alps, for the second day running, and it's time for the second time trial of the race. 
 

Billed as the mountain time trial of the race, riders have 17km and two ascents to haul themselves over before the descent into Megeve. Riders will start at two minute intervals until later this afternoon when they move out to three minutes apart. 

 

 

 

You can find our full preview for the stage here

 

In a nutshell the riders will face a flat section of around 4km before the road starts to rise up with slopes of16 per cent on the Domancy. The profile flattens out for just a short phase before the road once more kicks up with pitches just under 10 per cent in gradient as riders make their way up the Cote des Chozeaux. There's a brief descent to the finish. 

 

 

 

Here's a full list of the start times for today. Sam Bennett was off first and is just about the hit the first section of climbing. 

 

The first hour or so will be dominated by sprinters and domestiques getting through the day. Bodnar might set an early leading time. Cummings goes off in around an hour and although the course doesn't suit him that well he will certainly post a strong early time. He was in the top ten in the first time trial of the race. 

 

Here are the final times for later in the stage:


170 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre - Merida 16:32:00
171 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 16:35:00
172 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 16:38:00
173 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 16:41:00
174 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 16:44:00
175 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 16:47:00
176 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 16:50:00
177 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge 16:53:00
178 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 16:56:00
179 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 16:59:00

 

And here's a reminder of how things on GC stand after yesterday's first outing in the Alps. 

 

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 77:25:10
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:02:27
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:02:53
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:27
5 (-1) Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:15
6 (-1) Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:04:27
7 (+2) Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:19
8 (-2) Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:05:35
9 (-) Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:05:50
10 (-2) Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre - Merida 0:06:07

 

A few more early starters have rolled out and all them so fa have been on road bikes. There's some time of a few riders plumbing for TT machines but we'll have to wait and see. I can't see anyone changing from a TT bike to a road machine after 4km though - the time trial is too short for that, surely.

 

While we wait for a few riders to complete their tests, lets have a look around at some of the news making headlines this morning. 

 

Chris Froome has been waxing lyrical about his Team Sky teammates. With four riders in the top 20 and Poels seemingly able to drop Quintana and some of the best climbers in the world, Froome certainly has the best team in the race. Sky's strongest Tour team in their history? Probably.

 

Richie Porte continues to make up ground in the race for a podium spot. The Australian attacked on stage 17 and Froome went with him but Porte has established himself as BMC leader and he's in with a chance of a podium place but he needs a strong ride today. In the last TT he started well but faded badly. He can't afford that sort of second half performance today. You can read his reaction after stage 17, right here.

 

On the other side of the BMC camp van Garderen has thrown in the towel. He cracked badly on the second to last climb yesterday and lost close to 20 minutes. His top five, or even podium aspirations are all but over. Now it's all about helping Porte as much as possible and perhaps going for a stage win. Can't see the GC teams with top ten hopes letting him go up the road unless he loses a lot of time today though.

 

The interesting point is, perhaps, that it took BMC two weeks to figure out who their leader was. In that time Froome has practically won the race. When you have the strongest rider in the race it's a real luxury in terms of making team tactics simple. Anyway, here's van Garderen's honest assessment of yesterday's stage.

 

Fabian Cancellara, meanwhile, has pulled out of the race and is now concentrating on the Olympic Games. With no objectives left - other than helping Mollema became the first Dutchman to land on the Tour podium since Breukink in 1990 - Cancellara leave his final Tour of his career with Trek in a strong position in the race. The last few stages are for the climbers, and that's part of Cancellara's decision to head home:
 

"With some really hard stages ahead of us my support would naturally be more limited so we took the decision together to withdraw. It was a hard Tour for me: a lot of stress and I feel tired. If I want to be good at the Olympics I need rest."
 

You can read the full story, here.

 

Two finishes so far in the TT and Lars Bak is in the hotseat thanks to his time of 36'37. Lets see how long he can last.

 

Not long is the answer as Howard comes over the line and takes the lead with a time of 35'20. Further down the climb and Gougeard is making all the right noises, and has set the fastest times at a number of check  points. The AG2R rider clearly isn't holding too much back as Luke Rowe goes through the first check well off the pace. He's just using today as a 'recovery' ride.

 

33'06 for Gougeard who leads by over two minutes at the finish. A decent showing from the AG2R rider. 

 

Do you like hair? Of course you do, who are we kidding. It seems like that's one of the underlying themes in this week's InCycle episode - at least that's my interpretation of it. You get to see Marcel Kittel  - and his hair  - and then Lionel Marie -  who unless I'm mistaken has a map of Australia for a tattoo - having his head shaved by Pantano after the IAM rider won a stage here in the Tour. 


There's more than just hair in the show, of course. The inCycle gang go behind the scenes with Etixx and interview Laurens ten Dam about living the US and finding a home at Giant Alpecin. You can watch the episode, right here.

 

Out on the course, Bodnar, Kittel and Rowe all go through a number of time checks but none of them can touch Gougeard's lead. 

 

Here's the current top three as things stand at the finish
 

1. Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 33'06
2. Leigh Howard (Aus) IAM Cycling @ 2'14
3. Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal @ 3'29

 

We caught up with Tom Dumoulin on the rest day and here are some of his thoughts, starting with today's TT and whether it suits him:

 

It’s also a question for me but normally if I have the legs of the Arcalis stage and the last time trial, then a lot is possible I guess, in terms of result. But it will be very difficult. I think normally Froome and those guys will beat me, but I’d like to be close enough so I can battle for the win.
 

 

 

And here's Dumoulin on his build up towards the Rio Olympics. He starts today' TT at 15:21 in case you're interested. 

 

I just stay there in the hotel in Paris on Sunday night and then, on Monday I will drive home. It’s not so far to Maastricht. Then I’ll stay home for five days and maybe do two or three crits in the Netherlands. I will fly on the following Saturday to Rio.


I haven’t been to see the Rio course, but I’ve seen it on video. Adapting to the time difference has never been a problem and the difference isn’t that big to Rio in any case. In terms of temperature, it’s winter there, so the temperature will normally be like this. I don’t expect a lot of adaptation problems but a week before is early enough to travel out.


The road race depends on my legs but if I feel good I’ll have a go. There’s three days to time trial and I think that’s enough to recover.

 

Meanwhile at the finish Stannard comes over the line, losing over three minutes on the stage. Like Rowe, he's just getting through today's TT before two more tough days in the mountains. 

 

 Breen and Kittel have slipped into second and third at the finish as Bodnar runs second at a couple of early time checks.

Two other Etixx - Quick-Step riders are now on the course: @julienvermote and @MaxRicheze. Good luck, guys! #TDF2016

@Etixx_QuickStep Thu, 21st Jul 2016 09:56:08

1. Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 33'06
2. Vegard Breen (Nor) Fortuneo - Vital Concept @ 1'27
3. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step @ 2'08

 

This is pretty incredible. Yesterday Archbold broke is pelvis in a fall yet he carried on going and finished. Obviously he's not starting today. Read the story, here.

 

Degenkolb, Kristoff and Bono are some of the riders currently out on the course and we've had 14 finishers so far. 

 

In case you missed it - the LeMond story is still doing the rounds. He calls marginal gains 'bullshit', takes motors in bikes and of course Lance Armstrong. 

 

Tour de France stage 17 highlights - Video | https://t.co/HtXCytUP02 https://t.co/0rvkb1VbLQ https://t.co/jhYZJCiili https://t.co/9wki7jChDb

@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 21st Jul 2016 10:02:10

The climb of the Côte de Domancy is a special place in cycling, with Sallanches having hosted the world road race championships. Hinault's solo victory in 1980 is legendary but today' Le Tour also celebrated victories by Merckx and Jan Janssen. 

 

Cycling icons Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx & Jan Janssen all claimed World champion titles at Sallanches. #TDF2016 https://t.co/sA864jMGSI

@letourdata Thu, 21st Jul 2016 10:10:53

 

Britain's Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) is out on the course. It will be interesting to see if he gives it everything or saves himself for a shot at a second stage victory before Paris.

 

The USA's Brent Bookwalter (BMC) is out on the course. His ride will perhaps provide some important late info for team leader Richie Porte, as the Australian looks to gain time on his rivals and move up the GC. 

 

Cummings is the second fastest at the Côte de Domancy time check after 6.5km.

He was nine seconds slower than Alexis Gougeard (AG2R), who sent a time of 12:19. The French rider went on to the set the fastest time so far, stopping the clock in 33:06.

 

 

Cummings continues his strong ride but remains second fastest after 10km. He is 1:01 slower than Gougeard.

 

.@MaxRicheze stops the clock in 35:39, while @julienvermote comes home in 36:18. #TDF2016

@Etixx_QuickStep Thu, 21st Jul 2016 10:33:23

Andre Greipel (Lotto) gets a cheer as he rolls down the start ramp. Like all the sprinters and domestiques, they will pace their rider to try to save their strength to make it through the final Alpine stages and onto Paris on Sunday.

 

It's warm and sunny at the start in Sallanches after overnight thunder and some rain.

 

Cummings appears to have eased back with effort and is sixth fastest -at 1:47 at the 13.5km point of the course, close to the summit and before the fast descent to the finish.

 

At the start area in Sallanches, other riders are warming up for their TT. Most of the early starters are trying to get the pain of yesterday's stage out of their legs before the shorter pain of today. 

. @Markelirizar & @gregory_rast ready! #TDF2016 https://t.co/Oh5eD4Dr1k

@TrekSegafredo Thu, 21st Jul 2016 10:45:48

Meanwhile at the top in Megeve, Steve Cummings has finished, setting the ninth fastest time of 35:16.

 

Want to know who is starting when? Check out our full start list, with special info on when the big-name riders will roll down the start ramp.

Click here to see the full start list. 

 

Today's time trial is the second shortest in the history of the Tour de France. Other prologues have been shorter but do not officially count as time trials. 

Officially the shortest time trial, was the opening stage of the 2015 Tour de France in Utrecht in the Netherlands. It was 13.7km long and won by Rohan Dennis.

The Australian is not in action today after quitting the Tour to prepare for the Rio Olympics and especially the hilly TT.  

 

Here are the top five as things stand at the moment:


1. Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 33'06
2. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale Pro Cycling @ '40
3. Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-GreenEdge @ '58
4. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff Team @ 1'00
5. Albert Timmer (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin @ 1'15

 

Could we have a new fastest time from Cofidis?  Edet has gone through the first two time checks with the quickest time yet. He's just a few seconds ahead of  Gougeard but it's enough to put him at the top of the current standings. 

 

#TDF2016 Stage 18 preview: Sallanches - Megève, 17 km https://t.co/6nCCx6hyAT https://t.co/M2xLjMrLrx

@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 21st Jul 2016 11:05:04

#TDF2016 35mn41 pour @CyriLemoine à L arrivée

@TeamCOFIDIS Thu, 21st Jul 2016 11:06:34

#TDF2016 alors que @NicoEdet possède le meilleur temps aux 2 premiers intermédiaires . Allez Nico allez !

@TeamCOFIDIS Thu, 21st Jul 2016 11:07:15

Edet first at the third time check, at 13km. He's seven seconds up as he starts the descent to the line.

 

And Edet sets the fastest time, puling out his advantage to a full 29 seconds at the line. Albasini comes home in fourth so we have a new top five. Still over 100 riders yet to start the stage.

 

The current top five finishers:
 

1. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 32'37
2. Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale @ '29
3. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale Pro Cycling @ 1'09
4. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge @ 1'27
5. Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-GreenEdge @ 1'27
 

 

Luke Durbridge is about to start his TT. This course isn't for him, with the climbs not his natural environment. A few Orica riders have posted respectable times already though. 

 

.@MichaelValgren warms up for his time-trial. Start time at 13:41 @tacx @sportful @iamspecialized https://t.co/1wxNCZXH6w

@tinkoff_team Thu, 21st Jul 2016 11:17:38

Coquard, Vos, and Vanmarcke are among some of the riders out on the course right now. Few changes at the top of the leaderboard with Edet still top with a time of 32'37. What we need is a pure climber to come along and really set a benchmark for the other GC contenders. 

 

Matthews comes over the line in 9th place, almost two minutes down on Edet but it's fair to say that the Orica riders are doing more than just coasting around.

 

Kiryienka, the world time trial champion, comes over the line over three minutes down. Another rider saving himself for the final two days in the Alps.

 

Craddock comes over the line next, 2'38 down on Edet it a time of 35'15. 

 

Boasson Hagen and Durbridge roll through intermediate time checks inside the top ten but they're not troubling the top three at this point. 

 

Peter Sagan has started his effort. Maybe he can ride up the cols backwards just to liven things up. Maybe he can give a full rendition of a Bertolt Brecht performance or maybe a Lady GaGa dance routine or another song from Grease. Come on Peter...do something. Three stage wins and the Green jersey isn't enough.

 

We are back with a new episode of our #TDF2016 Behind the Scenes series: @BrakeThrough https://t.co/hxOQORJ1yi">https://t.co/efiKrDmL4e @BrakeThrough https://t.co/hxOQORJ1yi

@Etixx_QuickStep Thu, 21st Jul 2016 11:53:35

Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo - Vital Concept) has gone third on the stage 1'09 down on Edet as Boasson Hagen makes his way to the finish line.

 

The new top ten at the finish line:


1. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 32'37
2. Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale @ '29
3. Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept @ 1'09
4. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale Pro Cycling @
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data @ 1'10

 

 

Valgren and Hansen are both hitting the right notes through the second and third checks  - both riders inside the top set  of times as they stretch their legs on the second climb. 

 

Tour de France: Richie Porte earns Cyclingnews Rider of the Day https://t.co/4dFQs39ODY

@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 21st Jul 2016 12:10:20

Valgren moves into second at the line, 28 seconds off Edet's provisional lead.

 

Coppel a medalist at the World last year is out on the road. Like most he's a road bike with tri bars giving him some extra options for the flatter sections of the course. 

 

Gallopin goes fastest at the first time check but at the finish we have  few different names slotting into the top five. Edet still leads as Barta moves into third place at the penultimate time check at 13km. 

 

But Coppel set the fastest time, by a second, at the first time check. 

 

#TDF2016 Our riders are pre-cooling their bodies thanks to the @SlushPuppieUK iced drink. https://t.co/lfl4xlahoH

@GiantAlpecin Thu, 21st Jul 2016 12:34:08

We have a new best time!

 

Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) stops the clock in a time of 32:21. 

 

However Coppel is coming in and could beat him. 

Coppel breaks the 32-minute barrier, setting a new best time of 31:58.

 

RT @radiotour_en: New best time for Jérôme Coppel https://t.co/bMiZkEWfEw #TDF2016

@IAM_Cycling Thu, 21st Jul 2016 12:43:16

The sun has disappeared at the start in Sallanches but the risk of rain is limited at the moment.

 

Television is showing replies of two riders crashing on a late corner as they messed up the line and braking going in an coming out of the curve. Both finished over the barriers but were not hurt.

 

The riders were Jeremy roy (FDJ) and Oliver Naesen (IAM). 

 

It looks like Ion Izagirre is on a ride.

 

#TDF2016: Ion Izagirre, nuevo líder en meta. Su 31’46” le sitúa 12” por delante de Coppel (IAM). @wian88, 35’05”. https://t.co/kYTMwtyoV9

@Movistar_Team Thu, 21st Jul 2016 12:53:33

Indeed the Spaniard finishes with a time of 31:46 and so takes the provisional lead.

 

After their crashes both Roy and Naesen have confirmed they are okay.  

 

Race data shows that Izagirre held a speed of over 32km/h for the 17km time trial. Impressive.   

 

#IAMTDF No worries, #Oli is okay

Meanwhile at the start, Nairo Quintana has arrived at the Movistar bus. He will start his ride at 16:50 local time.  

 

The Colombian will be hoping to have a better day after losing time to Froome yesterday. If he has a bad day hr could lose any chance of finishing on the podium in Paris.

 

Most riders are using road bike fitted with aero extensions for the four kilometres of flat roads at the start. However the GC contenders could opt for a time trial bike and try to stat in an aero position on the easier slopes of the climb.

  

 

Trek has confirmed that Bauke Mollema will use a Emonda bike, fitted with a lightweight disc wheel and aero extensions. 

 

As we enter the final two hours of the time trial, it is time for some of the best climbers to start. We should see some new fastest times very soon.

 

 

George Bennett (LottoNl-Jumbo) was off at 15:05 and is one to watch. 

These are the next riders to start: 


131 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step 15:11:00
132 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 15:13:00
133 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie 15:15:00
134 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 15:17:00
135 Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale 15:19:00
136 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 15:21:00
137 Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo 15:23:00
138 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge 15:25:00
139 Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro Team 15:27:00

 

Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) has just started and is using aero extensions on his road bike.

His teammate Thomas Voeckler took it steady today. He just finished at 34:12.

 

The crowds are huge out on the climb, we've even seen one fan dressed as a Stars Wars stormtrooper. Fortunately they are cheering the riders and not creating any problems.

 

Here we go! Tom Dumoulin (Giant) sets off. Can he win today? 

 

Big Tom is using a TT bike and is tucked low on his bars on the flat opening 4km.  

 

Dumoulin is again racing in his Dutch national TT champion's jersey.  

 

 

La fusée @tom_dumoulin a décollé / The Dumoulin rocket has taken off! #TDF2016 https://t.co/Qqc22uk6gJ

@LeTour Thu, 21st Jul 2016 13:22:42

Dumoulin has stayed tucked in his aero position as long as possible, only sitting up on the tops as the gradient kicks in and steepens to 9%. 

 

NBT! New best time: Thomas de Gendt (Lotto) is on a ride and has set the fastest time to the top of the Côte de Domancy.

 

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) stops the clock in 33:20 as his teammate Vincenzo Nibali sets off for his ride. 

 

As expected, Dumoulin sets the fastest time after 6.5km.

 

 

He sets 11:42, 12 seconds faster than De Gendt. 

 

Dumoulin catches his minute-man Jan Bakelants (AG2R). He's on fire. 

 

Wout Poels -arguably the best climber in the race this year, has started his ride. We will soon find out if he and Team Sky ride to move past Movistar in the team classification or save themselves for the final mountain stages.

 

Here comes Alaphilippe. 

 

He sets 33:03 for tenth place so far. 

 

Also about to finish is De Gendt. Will he go fastest?

 

Just.... By one second he moves to fastest place ahead of Izagirre with a time of 31:45. 

 

Dumoulin is coming in soon. He's tucked in aero position even as the road climbs at 3%. 

 

#TDF2016 At the finish @DeGendtThomas beats the time of Ion Izagirre by one second! Strong time trial!

@Lotto_Soudal Thu, 21st Jul 2016 13:45:32

Dumoulin goes over the top of the climb tucked tight and begins the fast descent to the finish. 

 

Meanwhile  Rafal Majka is about to start, covered in red polka-dots as the leader of the climber's competition.

 

Here comes Domoulin! 

 

He takes it steady through the final corners and stops the clock in 31:04.29. That is 40 seconds faster than De Gendt. 

 

Dumoulin's time will be the one to beat today. He's a great, if not the best hilly time trialist in the world and saved himself yesterday in the mountains to give it everything today. 

 

The UCI are busy checking bikes before and after the time trial today. They are controlling the weight of bikes to ensure they are above the 6.8kg limit and then at the finish for hidden motors or other forms of mechanical doping.

 

Diego Rosa (Astana) finishes in a time of 33:10. He is a solid climber and has been linked to Team Sky for the 2017 season. That would further strengthen the British team for Grand Tours.

 

Dumoulin was satisfied with his time trial but is worried that Chris Froome can beat him.

"I’m satisfied but I don’t think it’ll be enough to win the stage, he said immediately after his ride.

 

"I think Froome in his best form can beat my time. I felt good on the steep bit at the beginning but I felt I was losing a bit of strength on the longer stretches of 3-4%. It’s easy to lose time on a course like this. I did a good time trial but I don’t think it’s good enough to win." 

 

Nibali finishes but sets a time of 32:06. Not bad for the Italian as he chases his best form for the Rio Olympics road race. 

 

Faster at every checkpoint - Dumoulin (TGA) puts on another impressive performance on the ITT! #TDFData #TDF2016 https://t.co/Alwqh6iRwr

@letourdata Thu, 21st Jul 2016 14:01:34

We're in the final hour of the Sallanches time trial. All the big names are now warming-up and preparing for their ride.

  

 

These are start times of the final riders who are fighting for the GC places.

 

163 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC 16:15:00
164 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale 16:17:00
165 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 16:19:00
166 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky 16:21:00
167 Sebastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ 16:23:00
168 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 16:26:00
169 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff Team 16:29:00
170 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre - Merida 16:32:00
171 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 16:35:00
172 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 16:38:00
173 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 16:41:00
174 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 16:44:00
175 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 16:47:00


176 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 16:50:00


177 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge 16:53:00


178 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 16:56:00


179 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 16:59:00
 

 

Last #GreenArgyle to race, @PierroooRolland  gets in his last few moments of warm-up before his #TDF2016 TT. https://t.co/wU25Obz1Iw

@Ride_Argyle Thu, 21st Jul 2016 14:13:17

Stage 17 winner Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) is in action. He's a time trial expert but has opted for his road bike today. He is only 25th at the second time split.

 

Tejay van Garderen (BMC) is also in action. He endured a tough day yesterday, losing more than 20 minutes.  

 

#TDF2016 Our times: @W1lcokelderman 34’15” @PMartens83 34’21” @georgenbennett 34’37” @BertjanLindeman 34’56” @sepvanmarcke 35’01” (1/2)

@LottoJumbo_road Thu, 21st Jul 2016 14:18:27

Chris Froome starts in 35 minutes and is now on the rollers preparing for his ride. He's got an all-yellow skinsuit.

 

Tejay is riding steady, confirming his plans to try to recover from his bad day and so be of help to teammate Richie Porte in the alps on Friday and Saturday.

 

#TDF2016 @sergepauwels is our final rider, he stops the clock at 34'31". Dumoulin is best with 31'04"... the GC contenders about to start.

@TeamDiData Thu, 21st Jul 2016 14:26:10

Froome has his back turned to the crowd as he focuses on his warm-up and ride. He has a ice-pack on his neck to help keep his core temperature down. 

 

Tom Dumoulin in action today as he approaches the finish in Sallanches.

 

 

Zakarin finishes in a time of 33:18. He was no doubt tired after his huge effort yesterday. 

 

Bike change for Purito Rodriguez (Katusha). That costs him at last 20 seconds and him his rhythm. 

 

Louis Meintjes (Lampre - Merida) is chasing the Spaniard and Roman Kreuziger. 

 

Pierre Rolland (Cannondale) catches and passes van Garderen, confirming the American's strategy of saving his legs today. 

 

Fabio Aru (Astana) starts his ride. He will looking to limit his loses on the flat section and then perhaps gain time on the climb. 

 

It's hot in the Alps and so some riders are using ice-vests to keep their core temperature down to help their bodies perform rather than work on cooling.  

 

Stef Clement (IAM) comes in with a good time but he's not close to Dumoulin.

 

Richie Porte (BMC) is off He's tucked tight on a road bike fitted with aero extensions.

 

Romain Bardet (Ag2R) is next off. He's gone for a road bike too and like Porte, has not added a disc wheel.  

 

Many of the big name riders are completing their warm up near the start ramp. They want to start the TT fully warmed up. 

 

Porte is tucked low on his bars. He knows that the opening 4km are a vital part of today's TT. 

 

Porte says tucked low even as the climb starts. 

 

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) starts his ride, with sweat dripping from his face. Today is a big day for the little Colombian. 

 

Quintana also opts for a road bike, with aero extensions but no disc wheel. 

 

#TDF2016 One final check to @BaukeMollema's @trekbikes Emonda to make sure everything is perfect. https://t.co/3mNOnxuQgs

@TrekSegafredo Thu, 21st Jul 2016 14:46:53

Adam Yates (Orica) is at the start and is riding a time trial bike. It seems Chris Froome will also do the same.

 

#TDF2016: @NairoQuinCo toma la rampa de salida. Mirando arriba e intentando sacar buenas sensaciones. ¡#VamosNairo! https://t.co/YDhdphaeMQ

@Movistar_Team Thu, 21st Jul 2016 14:50:50

Aru is riding well on the first climb and reached the Côte de Domancy time check after 6.5km only four seconds slower than Dumoulin. 

 

Yates is underway! 

 

We stand corrected, Quintana has opted for a TT bike. It is perhaps faster when the riders are tucked un an aero position but limit the comfort out of the saddle.  

 

Our photographers snapped Peter Sagan after his TT. Not everything comes easy to the world champion. 

 

 

Aru is going deep. He is only 23 seconds down on Dumoulin at the second time check. 

 

Froome starts! He's decked in in yellow, including his helmet.  

 

Froome is using a TT bike fitted with a disc wheel. He's looking for every possible second.

 

Wow! Porte is fastest at the first time split. He sets 11:33, that's 9 seconds faster than Dumoulin. 

 

Different bike choices for Porte and Froome. We will see which is best at the finish in 30 minutes or so. 

 

After his bike change, Purito Rodriguez sets a time of 31:48.   

 

Porte hits the second time split but he's down on Dumoulin.  

 

Here comes Meintjes. He set a good time of 31:51. That's fifth fastest so far. 

 

Porte was nine seconds slower than Dumoulin at the second split. 

 

Quintana seems to be suffering. He sets 12:20 at the 6.5km time split. He's lost 45 seconds to Porte and 22 to Aru. 

 

Bardet is also off the pace due to his lack of power on the gradual climb.

 

Dan Martin finishes. He sprints in to set a time of 32:11.

 

Yates is also riding well. He's fast on the first section up to the 6.5km time split.  

 

Aru finishes fast in a time of 31:16. That's only 11 seconds slower than Dumoulin. 

 

32:11 the time of @DanMartin86 at the finish in Megeve. He gave it all today and got a very strong result. #WayToRide #TDF2016

@Etixx_QuickStep Thu, 21st Jul 2016 15:08:19

Quintana is at the second split but he's 1:02 down on Dumoulin. He could lose that to Froome and others too. 

 

Froome is still tucked low on his TT bike, trying to save every second possible. 

 

Further up the climb, Porte is dancing on the pedals as he tries to reach the top of the climb. He seems to be suffering and perhaps fading.

 

Yates is gaining time on Quintana. He reaches the second time split just 40 seconds down on Tom Dum. Yates has 20 seconds on Quintana.

 

#TDF2016 Great to see @LouisMeintjes performing strong in the ITT: @lampre_merida's best rider in the overall to consolidate his top10.

@MeridaProRoad Thu, 21st Jul 2016 15:12:16

Froome sets a time of 11:56 at the first time split. That is 13 seconds slower than Yates and only 2 faster than Aru. 

 

Froome could be pacing his ride or just not be on a great day. 

 

Aru's strong ride has lifted him up the GC, He's passed Valverde today. 

 

Here comes Porte but he finishes just a few seconds off the stage in, with a time of 31:16.

 

Mollema is also fighting for his podium place but is losing seconds. 

 

Froome is in his aero position, trying to spin his gears. He's close to the second time split.  

 

Bardet finishes with a good time of 31:25 but he is 10 seconds slower than Aru.  

Froome is 10 second slower than Dumoulin at the second time split. He could still win the stage.

 

Froome is probably going to gain time on all of his GC rivals today. 

 

Quintana is a minute slower than Dumoulin as he approaches the finish. 

 

He stops the clock in 31:53. He's lost 38 seconds to Aru today and most likely will lose time to Yates too.  

 

In virtual timings, Froome is 1:00 faster than Yates and Mollema. 

 

Mollema is fighting the gradient as the top of the climb approaches.

 

Quintana kept his GC place ahead of Bardet, but now is only 21 seconds ahead.

 

Here comes Yates!

 

Yates sets 32:06. That's off the pace of Dumoulin, Froome and Aru.  

 

Froome is staying in the saddle as much as possible. He will soon be on the 2km descent to the finish.

 

Mollema is tucked over his top tube trying to hold his speed. He's touching 80km/h!

 

Mollema is losing time today. 

 

Here comes Froome!!!! 

 

H's going to win the stage!!!

 

Froome sets a time of 30:43 and so extends his lead in the Tour de France. 

 

Dumoulin is forced to leave the hot seat and accept second place today. No third stage win for the big Dutchman. Froome beat him by 21 seconds. 

 

Froome punched the air after crossing the line, celebrating his second time trial victory of his career at the Tour de France. 

 

Froome extended his overall lead by more than a minute after both Mollema and Yates failed to finish in the top ten of the stage.

 

Bauke Mollema is second at 3:53, Yates is third overall at 4:16 and Quintana is fourth at 4:37.  

Aru is the winner of the day too. He moved up to seventh overall today thanks to a solid ride.

 

This is the provisional top ten for the stage today: 

 

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:30:43
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:21
3 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:33
4 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:33
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:42
6 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:01:02
7 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:03
8 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:05
9 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre - Merida 0:01:08
10 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:01:10

 

 

General classification after stage 18:

 

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 77:55:53
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:52
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:04:17
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:04:37
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:58
6 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:05:00
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:06:08
8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:06:37
9 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre - Merida 0:07:15
10 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:07:18

 

The time trial is Froome's seventh stage win at the Tour de France and is fourth win in the yellow jersey.

 

#TDF2016

Froome is in charge of the Tour de France now. However there is a fascinating battle going on behind him for places in the top ten. 

 

Froome leads by 3:52 but the top ten behind him is packed into just 3:26. We can expect some fierce fighting for the podium spots and top five in the final two mountain stages in the Alps on Friday and Saturday. 

 

.@richie_porte on critics who said he couldn't go 3 weeks: "I don't care what anyone thinks about me ... that's their opinion." #TDF2016

@cyclingreporter Thu, 21st Jul 2016 15:42:38

Froome pulls on the yellow jersey on the podium and celebrates with a nod of the head. 

 

Sky employee on the finish line says they consulted nasa in their bike choice for today's TT. #TDF2016

@SadhbhOS Thu, 21st Jul 2016 15:43:10

Chris Froome (Team Sky) spoke briefly about his ride.

 

"I really didn’t expect to beat Tom Dumoulin today. I think that the key to the race was about pacing so I started off the first half steady with control and then in the second half I gave it everything that I had," he said.

 

 

RT @mattmcgeehan: Chris Froome now has seven TdF stage wins: 2012: 1; 2013: 3; 2015: 1; 2016: 2. Only Brits with more are Barry Hoban (8) a…

@tomcary_tel Thu, 21st Jul 2016 15:43:59

Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) was satisfied despite being beaten by Froome. 

He seems on form for Rio and will surely be a Grand Tour contender in years to come. 

"I felt good on the steep bit at the beginning but I felt I was losing a bit of strength on the longer stretches of 3-4%. It’s easy to lose time on a course like this. I did a good time trial but I don’t think it’s good enough to win."

 

Dumoulin added: 

"I hope to lose some weight in the future so I can really compete in the Grand Tours.

 

"So far my climbing abilities are good, but not good enough yet to really compete for the podium. But it's getting close, but to compete for the podium in the Tour de France I need to make another step."

 

"I'm getting close, you can see today it's a climbing TT and I'm second, but there's a difference between going full gas every day for three weeks and me taking back some time yesterday. I think I need to make another step, but it's looking very promising."

 

Froome and Porte are on the podium now, collecting a special prize for setting the fastest time on the Côte de Domancy. They set the same tine and so both won a Tissot watch.

 

They were presented by Bernhard Hinault, who won the world title in 1980 with a legendary attack on the climb. 

 

Froome was dressed all in yellow again today. 

 

 

RT @letour_uk: That victory for @chrisfroome was the 7th

David Brailsford spoke about some of the technical aspects and choices behind Froome's ride today.

 

"I think Chris was one of the only riders using a disc wheel, but we spent a lot of time doing the calculations, and it came out right, thankfully," he said.

 

"Both teams (in comparison with Dumoulin) went for a similar setup. When you watch what Tom is doing, particularly in the time trial, you can see they're really pushing forward and challenging us. So we'll have to watch them very carefully. It's one of those decisions, everyone will look at it and take it to Rio for sure."

 

"The pacing strategy is always important, and Tom went out a little faster than Chris today, and then Chris came back. But there's nothing between them in my opinion. It's going to be a super clash at the Rio Games I think."

 

Dumoulin opted not to use a disc wheel today. It may have cost him a few seconds. 

 

 

We have the first images of today's stage on our stage report page. This is one of Froome in full flow. 

 

 

 

Fabio Aru (Astana) spoke briefly after his good ride. He gained time on all his GC rivals except Froome and moved past Valverde to seventh place overall. 

 

“I’m happy with my result today. For me this was an important test because it came deep into the third week. Now I’ve got to recover as much as possible and perhaps even spend some time with my parents who are here to cheer me on. Then we’ll be fully focused on the final two staged.”

 

“I hope to continue doing well in the final stages. It’s good to hear that people have noticed I’m in the race too, even if I prefer to let my legs do the talking.”

 

“We saw yesterday how strong the team was yesterday, especially Nibali, who is helping me a lot despite being sometimes being criticised. I can only thank him and hope we can be as strong all the way to Paris.”

 

#MaillotJaune Froome won 1'25" over Mollema and 1'32" over Yates on the ITT. #TDFdata #TDF2016 https://t.co/B76SgJQn3T

@letourdata Thu, 21st Jul 2016 16:13:24

This image shows Froome fighting the gradient during the climb to Megeve.

 

 

To check out our full photo gallery from today's stage and read our stage report, click here.   

 

We have some great images in there, such as this one of Fabio Aru in full flight.

 

 

 

Road racing in the Alps returns tomorrow and Sunday before a transfer to Paris for the final circuit stage in the French capital. 

Frida's stage is short but testing, with four climbs packed into 146km of racing. The stage starts steady but the riders then face the HC category Montee de Bisanne -12.4km at 8.2%.

The stage ends with the 9.8Km - 8% climb to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc Le Bettex in the Haute Savoie.      

 

What can we take from today? 

 

Well, Chris Froome further strengthened his grip on the yellow jersey, with an impressive ride in he time trial. Team Sky carefully studied and prepared in every way and opting for the benefits of a time trial bike and disc  wheel seemed to give the Briton an advantage. Froome no doubt also specifically trained for this kind of effort.

 

Team Sky has so far dominated the road stages, using the strength of their squad to keep any attacks in check. We can expect them o do the same on Friday and Saturday and all the way to Paris.

 

With the top ten from 2nd-10th packed into just 3:36, with riders of far different form and fatique after three weeks of hard racing, anything could happen in the final two mountain stages.   

 

Aru looks the freshest and so cold try to win on Friday and move further up the GC from his current seventh spot. 

 

There will also be a huge battle for the podium places. Can Mollema and Yates hold on? And who will be second? 

 

Quintana seems tired and is 23 seconds ahead of Bardet and 23 seconds ahead of a clearly strong Porte. The Colombian could be dumped out of the top five before Paris. 

 

 

 

 

Tom Dumoulin took defeat by Froome well, tweeting:  

 

@tom_dumoulin: Still a good TT. Small improvements possible here and there, but no 20 sec improvements though. Strongest won. Congrats.

 

We've added more images to our full stage report page of Chris Froome's mountain TT victory.

 

Check it out by clicking here.

 

 

We're going to wrap up today's live coverage of the tour de France stage.

 

Click here to visit the Cyclingnews home page to find all the news, interviews and photo galleries from the day's stage.

 

We'll be back tomorrow for full liv coverage of stage 19.  

 

A demain mes amis.  

 

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