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Tour de France 2018: Stage 14

Hello and welcome to our full coverage of stage 14 to Mende.  

 

The riders are currently signing on for another hot day in the saddle across the south of France. 

Today's stage is 188km across the Massif Central before the tough uphill finish to Mende.

 

The minutes are ticking down to the roll out of the stage from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux.  

 

It's another hot day in France and there is also a strong wind blowing. It could be a very interesting day.

 

Speaking before the start, Dan Martin and Romain Bardet both confirmed that today is a 'GC day'.  

 

This is the current GC standings. 

 


1 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 53:10:38
2 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 00:01:39
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:01:50
4 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 00:02:46
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:03:07
6 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 00:03:13
7 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 00:03:43
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:04:13
9 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 00:05:11
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 00:05:45  

 

The Alps have shaken up and spread out the GC but so much more could happen before the riders head to Paris in eight days time.

 

The riders click in and roll out. They face 3km of neutralised roads before the flag drops and the 188km stage begins. 

 

The 188km stage features rolling terrain followed by four classified climbs.

The final ascent in Mende – the Côte de la Croix Neuve – may only be deemed to be a category 2 climb, but it's no joke: while only three kilometres in length, it averages a whisker over 10 per cent in gradient. The top of the climb comes 1.5km from the finish.

 

To read more about the stage and Sunday's ride to Carcassonne, click here to read Sadhbh O'Shea's excellent preview feature.

 

Steve Cummings was the last rider to win in Mende in 2015.

 

 

 

188km remaining from 188km

Here we go! the flag drops and Thomas de Gendt is the first to attack. 

 

The riders cross the canal at speed as other attacks try to inspire the break of the day.  

 

There's a strong cross wind and so we immediately have echelons!  

 

These early kilometres are on flat exposed roads. We could see some splits in the peloton.

 

The Classics riders are all up front.   

 

Wow! There are four echelons spread down the road! 

 

We can see Thomas in yellow in the front echelon but Landa is back in the fourth echelon.

 

179km remaining from 188km

Barguil is also in the last echelon. 

 

Yates, Valverde and Bardet are in the second echelon.

The gaps are not huge, for now and the race soon heads into the hills but the second echelon is 20 seconds back.

 

Landa's echelon is 40 seconds back. 

 

175km remaining from 188km

The GC riders in the front group have eased up and so Alaphilippe drags a break away.

 

The other echelon groups are still chasing.

 

The hills are protecting the riders from the wind and so Team Sky have eased up and let the break go clear. 

 

Team Sky is blocking the road as Thomas returns from a natural break.   

 

171km remaining from 188km

Seven riders lead the peloton by 30 seconds or so.

 

There are another 25 riders in a chase group, with the peloton at 3:00 now. 

 


 

 

The seven are: Andrey Amador (Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step), Omar Fraile (Astana), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Lilian Calmejane and Jérôme Cousin (Direct Energie) and Anthony Perez (Cofidis). 

 

 

Peter Sagan is in the chase group at 35 seconds. He's perhaps hoping to pick up points at the intermediate sprint but it is after 90km today. 

 

This shot shows the echelon attacks early in the stage.

 

 

The main peloton is now back together with Sky riding tempo. Their GC rivals will be happy they avoided any problems.

 

158km remaining from 188km

As the riders pass through the aptly-named village of Bidon, the 32 riders have come together at the front of the race. They lead the peloton by 3:30.

 

From the Cyclingnews blimp, we can see the race on the edge of the Ardeche gorge. It's yet another spectacular moment of the Tour de France. 

 

For now the 32-rider group is riding together but not every rider is doing turns on the front. 

 

Some riders are playing smart, others have teammates doing the work for them.  

 

We can surely expect a shakeout soon or later, with more attacks.

 

150km remaining from 188km

The break has extended its lead on the peloton to 4:30. 

We will have two races today on the road to Mende. A fight for the stage victory and probably a fight between the GC in the nasty climbs in the final 100km. 

 

This is the stunning terrain the riders are enjoying today. 

 

 

144km remaining from 188km

Sagan drops back for fresh bidons. He seems relaxed but the peloton is lined out behind on the country roads on the edge of the gorge.

 

There are no easy days at the Tour de France.

 

Amongst the 32 riders up front are Quick-Step Floors trio Julian Alaphilippe, Philippe Gilbert and Yves Lampaert. 

Lampaert is Belgian national champion and today is Belgium national day. 

 

 

The average speed for the first hour is a fast 43.1km/h. Ouch. 

 

The best placed rider in the break is Damiano Caruso (BMC) but he's 39:18 down on Thomas.     

 

The riders are passing the Pont d'Arc, where ancient cave drawings from 5000 years ago were discovered. 

These roads hosted the 37.5km TT in 2016, won by Tom Dumoulin.  

 

133km remaining from 188km

The Direct Energie team have Lilian Calmejane, Jérôme Cousin, Thomas Boudat, Sylvain Chavanel and Damien Gaudin in the 32-rider attack. 

 

They're pushing the pace to give the break as big a lead as possible. 

 

128km remaining from 188km

It's interesting to see that Greg van Avermaet in the attack today. 

It's a hard finale but could be his day.

There is still a lot of debate and controversy about Vincenzo Nibali's crash on the climb to L'Alpe d'Huez. 

 

Bahrain-Merida team manager Brent Copeland has confirmed to Cyclingnews that the team is investigating possible legal action against race organiser ASO for damages after losing a shot at overall victory at the Tour de France. 

 

Click here to read the full story. 

 

 

120km remaining from 188km

Team Sky continue to lead the peloton behind the 32-rider break. The gap is rising gradually and is now 5:45.

 

The riders have left the Ardeche gorge region now and are enjoying some rare flat roads. 

 

The break is working smoothly as they try to push ahead of the peloton. They know the climbs will start again very soon, just before the feed zone.    

 

Luke Rowe is doing a lot of the work for Team Sky at the head of the peloton.

 

111km remaining from 188km

Lawson Craddock of EF Education is again at the back of the peloton as he rides in pain after fracturing his shoulder on stage 1. Today he has support and company from several teammates.

 

The peloton is strung out in a narrow line but we can't really say they seem to be in much of a hurry to catch the break group.

The lead group heads up the day's first climb, the cat. 4 Cote du Grand Chataignier.

 

That climb marks the end of the flattish early part of the stage. From here there is a long gradual climb up to the day's next obstacle, the Col de la Croix de Berthel.

To no one's surprise, Alaphilippe took the points at the mountaintop. 

 

The peloton has finally made its way to the climb.

 

101km remaining from 188km

With 101 km still to go, the gap is nearing the seven minute mark. It is not hard to believe that this group will stay away.

 

The next excitement will be the intermediate sprint coming up shortly. But since green jersey Peter Sagan is in teh lead group, we doubt there will be much question as to how gets the 20 points. 

And indeed he takes it.

 

That gives him something like a zillion points. There seems to be no way he can lose this green jersey, assuming he finishes the race.

 

The teams are all nicely lined up in the peloton: Sky, Sunweb, and LottoNL-Jumbo. 

 

Only now is the field approaching the sprint. The gap has fallen, though, from a high of 7:12 all the way down to 6:57.

 

The lead group hits the feed zone and we wish them Bon Appetit!

 

Adam Yates has punctured, but is back on his way again. It looks like he has quite a way to go to catch the field. But now he is back at the team car for another adjustment. 

 

Now it is the peloton's turn to deal with musettes and sandwiches and bidons and so on. 

 

Things are going up again. As we said, there is a long way up now to the next mountaintop.

 

The gap has gone back up to 7:07. Sky is obviously determined to keep it that way.

 

This huge lead group is working well together. They know now that they have excellent chances to go for the win. 

 

Dumoulin moving his way up from the team cars to the peloton. Presumably he made a nature break as so many other riders are doing at the moment. 

 

The gap is slowly inching its way up again, now at 7:27, with 78 km to go.

 

WE have now passed the eight minute mark!

 

And now approaching nine minutes. We can only assume there will be some activity and fireworks within this group on the final climb. 

 

Sagan drops back to his team car for some bidons and a small chat. 

 

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida) goes one better. He has donned a vest full of bidons! 

 

The gap is now 9:02. BMC's Patrick Bevin is dropping off the back of the peloton, but it is surely not due to the high pace of the field.

Oops, in the time it took us to type that, the gap has gone to 9:12

 

Slagter had a turn at the front of the lead group, then Geschke, now Alaphilippe. They are all co-operating very well.

 

The climb up the Col de la Croix de Berthel has now officially begun -- 9.1 km to climb, please!

 

Bevin was falling off the back of the peloton at last report, and has now climbed off his bike. 

 

Bevin is said to be ill. We hope he gets well soon. 

 

64km remaining from 188km

The gap to the peloton is up to 9:45 now. Team Sky are still riding steady but must be worried about attacks in the hills. 

 

 

The Col de la Croix de Berthel comes with 59km to race. It's 9.1km long at 5.3%.

 

However the country roads climb before and after there in a very testing finale. 

 

There is also the Col du Pont sans Eau with 46km to race. It's 3km long at 10.2%. 

 

It is followed by the unclassified La Baraque de l'Air at 34.5km to go.  

 

Of course the GC teams are looking at the final climb up to the Mende airstrip. 

 

It is 3km long at 10%. It is so close to the finish, there's line time to close any gap.  

 

 

Team Sky directeur sportif Nicolas Portal expects the break to be successful, but it won’t be a day off for the general classification riders.

 

"It will be the breakaway that goes for the stage win, but behind them it will be a fight for the GC," Portal told Cyclingnews in our special preview.

 

"On the short uphill in Mende, someone is going to try. Sometimes, if you can get 10 seconds on this climb, it's better than nothing. So, for us, it's going to be a case of being very focused on trying not to lose any time, and maybe gaining time."

 

To understand more on the stage and the testing weekend in the Massif Central, click here. 

 

Steve Cummings won the stage the last time the stage finished in Mende in 2015. 

 

 

Back at the head of the race, Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) is on the move. 

 

He's kicked clear alone and opened a gap as the summit of the Col de la Croix de Berthel. 

 

The Spanish national champion is trying to make up for the loss of team leader Vincenzo Nibali, and perhaps start a run at the polka-dot climber's jersey.

 

 

 

Izagirre is the first to the summit, with Slagter of Di Data just behind.

 

Alaphilippe takes third to add a little to his lead in the polka-dot jersey. competition.

 

He's making a huge effort for very few points.  

 

The roads are in the barren hilltops of the Massif now. There are few trees and locks of rocks in this remote central part of France. 

 

Izagirre has been joined by Slagter and Jasper Stuyven (Trek). 

 

Riders are trying to open a gap before the serious attacks come in the break.  

 

Behind the peloton is at 13:00 minutes. 

 

There are other attacks from the break but the riders are chasing each other down, as the trio up front push on together.

They will soon be on the Col du Pont sans Eau.

48km remaining from 188km

Izagirre, Slagter and Stuyven lead by 1:00 now. 

 

The peloton on the Berthel climb is huge but very well behaved as the peloton reaches the summit more than 14:00 after the break. 

 

Yves Lampaert is giving his all to pull the trio back and indeed, the gap is down to 35 seconds.

 

Izagirre leads Stuyven and Slagter over the top of the climb, with Slagter grabbing a bidon over the top. 

 

It's hot and windy our there today.

 

Behind Alaphilippe sweeps up more points at the head of the attack group. 

 

He seems to be the protected rider for Quick-Step today.

 

45km remaining from 188km

There are still 45km of hard racing to come and there are some quality riders in the attack group today. 

 

These include Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Greg van Averaemt andDamiano Caruso (BMC Racing), Pierre Rolland and Daniel Martínez (EF Education First-Drapac) and Lilian Calmejane and Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie). 

 

 

Other riders to watch include Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) and Omar Fraile (Astana). 

 

However they and their teammates up front will have to close down the three up front.

 

The gap is now 1:30 and rising. 

 

38km remaining from 188km

The testing hills are hurting riders in the attack. Sagan, van Avermaet and Amador have been distanced. 

 

De Gendt opened the gas on a steep section, spitting several riders out the back.   

 

There were 21 riders in the move until recently. 

They were Daniel Martínez, Pierre Rolland (EF Education First), Simon Geschke (Team Sunweb), Daryl Impey (Mitchelton - Scott), Andrey Amador (Movistar Team), Damiano Caruso, Stefan Küng, Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team), Julian Alaphilippe, Philippe Gilbert, Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors), Peter Sagan (Bora - Hansgrohe), Omar Fraile (Astana Pro Team), Thomas de Gendt (Lotto - Soudal), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), Nicolas Edet, Anthony Pérez (Cofidis), Thomas Degand (Wanty - Groupe Gobert)

 

Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) attacks now but the head wind is making is hard today. 

 

He is pulled back but there are only a dozen or so riders left up front.

 

36km remaining from 188km

The peloton is some 16:30 back now. Team Sky continue to lead the peloton, there is no sign of attacks from their GC rivals for now.

 

Up front there is some tension as Izagirre shouts at Slagter. The Dimension Data riders seems to be tired and so is not working.

 

Indeed when Izagirre kicks away, Slagter is distanced.

 

The rolling exposed roads and the attacks in the front group is making the racing very, very hard.

 

33km remaining from 188km

Stuyven has distanced Izagirre while the Spanish worried about Slagter. 

 

He's over the top of the last climb and so so can time trial on the descent in the hope of staying away.

 

29km remaining from 188km

There are a dozen or so riders in the attack group. 

 

After attacking each other, they're now working together to try to catch Stuyven. He leads by 1:10.

 

The peloton is at a massive 17:30. Team Sky seem to be trying to hypnotise their GC rivals into defeat.   

 

The distance between Stuyven and the peloton is some 11km. 

 

24km remaining from 188km

Stuyven is ticked low over his bike on the fast descent, trying to gain every second he can. 

 

He leads the chasers by 1:10.  

 

 

Seeing Stuyven up front reminds us of the Cobbled Classics. 

For just 24 hours you can look back at the classics via our exclusive films. The Holy Week is now only $2.99, while Crescendo is just $3.99.

Click here for more details on how to download the films. 

 

 

Stuyven is on the new Trek Madone disc aero bike. He'll need every second he can get on the 10% climb to the Mende airstrip.

 

15km remaining from 188km

The 19 chasers are at 1:35. The peloton is at huge 18:30!

 

We definitely have two races today and we'll have time to enjoy both of them.

 

The 19 chasers are working together but not everyone is giving their all. This is helping Stuyven.  

 

This is the short but steep climb Stuyven faces up to the finish.

 

 

 

9km remaining from 188km

Stuyven leads by 1:50 but is not a climber.

 

Gilbert and van Avermaet are leading the chase to help Alaphilippe and Caruso.

 

Peter Sagan is still in the chase group. He checks his pockets are empty and smiles at the Tv camera.

 

What can he do in this intense finale? For sure he will score some points towards his sixth green jersey. 

 

6km remaining from 188km

This is the fifth time the Tour finishes atop the Mende plateau. The steep climb always produces a dramatic finish.

 

Stuyven is in the centre of Mende. The road is about to kick up at 10%. 

 

Stuyven is in the small ring, trying to spin and save his legs.

 

 

The chasers hit the climb and De Gendt goes clear. But he's 1:30 down on Stuyven. 

 

The peloton is 20:00 back, so we can enjoy the fight for the stage victory and then follow the GC battle.

 

3km remaining from 188km

Stuyven is suffering on the climb.

 

Fraile is leading the chase of Stuyven but other riders are closing too.  

 

Fraile has just 3 hard kilometres to catch Stuyven. 

 

 

Dani Martinez of EF kicks off in pursuit of Fraile and Stuyven.

 

Stuyven's lead is down to 30 seconds. 

 

He needs to reach the top of the climb and then find some speed on the flat final two kilometres.

 

Attack Alaphilippe! He's in pursuit of Fraile and Stuyven. 

 

Fraile catches and passes Stuyven.  

 

Alaphilippe is trying to catch him.

 

But Fraile could do this.

 

Alaphilippe catches Stuyven but can he get up to Fraile. 

 

It's a big ask. 

 

1km remaining from 188km

Last Km!

 

Fraile gasps for air as the road descends. 

He's on the airstrip. 

 

Fraile holds on to win the stage. 

 

Alaphilippe takes second, Stuyven third and incredibly Sagan is fourth!!

 

Fraile can hardly believe he held on to win.  

 

This is the top ten for the stage.

 

 

1 Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team 04:41:57
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:06
3 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:06
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:12
5 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team 00:00:17
6 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Sunweb 00:00:19
7 Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 00:00:19
8 Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie 00:00:23
9 Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:30
10 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 00:00:37

 

Fraile went early in his pursuit of Stuyven but he timed it well. He needed time to catch him and to push on alone.

 

Alaphilippe left it a little too late. 

 

The peloton is a 4.5km from the finish. Dan Martin flats. That could cost him time. 

 

The GC riders hit the climb to the finish.

 

Adam Yates is distanced.

 

AG2R set the pace but Thomas and Froome are there.

 

All the GC riders are waiting for the big acceleration.

 

Landa ups the pace but no attacks yet. 

 

Now Roglic goes but Sky is tracking him. Kwaitkowski is trying to close the gap.

 

Jungels is distanced.

 

Froome is a little down the line.

 

Bernal leads the chase for Thomas.

 

Dumoulin is also gapped slightly.

 

Froome and Dumoulin are back with Thomas. 

 

And Dumoulin goes on the attack!

 

Bardet is distanced.

 

Quintana, Froome and Thomas are the only ones with Dumoulin.

 

Thomas kicks hard and Quintana is gapped.

 

Roglic leads them by 100 metres.

 

Roglic finishes alone, some 18:00 down on stage winner Fraile.

 

Froome, Thomas and Dumoulin finished eight second down on Roglic.

 

They gain ten seconds on Quintana. Bardet is 15 seconds down on Thomas, Froome and Dumoulin

 

 

The rest of the riders are spread over the climb and final kilometre.

 

Here comes Dan Martin. He finishes almost 2:00 down on his GC rivals.

 

Jasper Stuyven spoke briefly post-stage.

 

"You can say it was too early but there were some big guys behind. I played my card, went all in and lost," he said. 

 

This is the GC after today's stage.

 

1 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 58:10:44
2 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 00:01:39
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:01:50
4 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 00:02:38
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:03:21
6 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 00:03:42
7 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 00:03:57
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:04:23
9 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 00:06:14
10 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 00:06:54

 

This is the first shot of Fraile winning in Mende.

 

 

As they say, there's never a quiet day at the Tour and even the steep climb shook up the break and the GC contenders.

 

Thomas, Froome and Dumoulin confirmed they're the strongest but Roglic is there too, while Quintana showed signs of a comeback.

 

 

 

Tom Dumoulin talked briefly post-stage. HE is seen as the biggest threat to Team Sky now.

 

 

The riders were able to ride to their team buses parked beyond the finish. The airstrip finish makes it easy for everyone today.

  

 

Thomas and Froome again finished together. Their joint team leadership/rivalry continues for another day.

 

 

 

Times for the final climb have revealed the nature of the performances today but must of course be seen in context.

 

Primoz Roglic sets a time of 9:10 on the final Croix Neuve climb.

According to statistician Mihai Cazacu, that is only 7 sec slower than Pantani, Indurain and Riis in 1995 and faster than Armstrong and others in 2005.

Omar Fraile was as fast as Jalabert 23 years ago.

Of course the riders were part of huge break, while the peloton rode steady all day, losing 18 minutes to the attackers.

 

Geraint Thomas remains in the leader's yellow  jersey.  

 

 

Fraile was in shock after his stage victory. He crashed hard and hurt his shoulder in the first week but timed his pursuit of Stuyven perfectly. 

 

"It's an amazing day," said Fraile after the finish. "I've been dreaming about this victory. In the end we picked up this phenomenal win and it's absolutely amazing. It's easily the best day of my career so far."

 

"We had a headwind [on the climb] and it was really tricky, but I just tried to climb it at the best rate I could, and in the end I did have the legs. I knew the climb today very well indeed."   

 

This is a great shot of Fraile realising his big moment had come true. 

 

 

To read our full report and see our photo gallery from the stage, click here.

 

 

Tom Dumoulin launched the attack that split the GC contenders near the top of the climb to the Mende airstrip. 

He looked strong, despite being sandwiched by Thomas and Froome.

 

 

It's a big day at this year's Tour de France but 2012 winner Bradley Wiggins has also been making waves. 

 

He spoke to British TV channel ITV during today's stage about his much questioned use of a TUE to take Triamcinolone during the peak of his career and about the many accusations made at Team Sky and manager Dave Brailsford. 

 

 

In his defence, Wiggins seems to be trying to fully understand what happened during his time at Team Sky. 

He said: 

"There are things that have come to light with this whole thing, that we’ve found out since that are quite scary actually. It’s very sinister, and we’re still not at the bottom of it. We’re finding stuff out daily, to do with this package that never was, and all this stuff, and it’s quite frightening actually." 

Click here to read the full story on what Wiggins told ITV television.

 

 

The other big story away from today's racing was that Bahrain-Merida is considering legal against the Tour de France after he crashed on L'Alpe d'Huez. 

 

Click here to read more. 

 

 

To see our daily video highlights of stage 14, click here.

 

 

There were echelons and attacks early on.

 

 

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