Tour de France: Roglic wins final mountain stage in Laruns

Primoz Roglic parlayed a series of relentless attacks by him and his LottoNL-Jumbo team into an emphatic stage victory on a breathless final mountain stage of the Tour de France to Laruns in the Pyrenees.

The Slovenian couldn't drop the maillot jaune Geraint Thomas on the soaring final climb of the Col d'Aubisque, but opened up a 19-second gap on the 20-kilometre long descent over the race leader, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and, more importantly, third-placed Chris Froome (Team Sky).

Thomas sprinted in for second place on the stage ahead of Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), virtually cementing the overall race victory with only Saturday’s 31km individual time trial to go before the parade into Paris.

"We expected a hard day, and whew - it was really on all day," Thomas said. "To come through it - it was quite a fast descent, so it was nice to get through that in one piece.

"I knew all I had to do was follow Tom Dumoulin. I knew he'd be chasing Roglic, too. Roglic was really strong today, he was really going. I'm really happy to tick that off. It's obviously getting closer, but we have one more day. I need to do a really good TT and we'll see."

Dumoulin held on to keep second place overall, 2:05 behind Thomas, while Roglic's concerted efforts paid off, moving him up over Froome into third in the general classification at 2:24. Froome is now fourth at 2:37.

With a second career stage victory in the Tour de France after last year's win in a similar fashion with an attack off the Col du Galibier, Roglic now finds himself in the position of realistically finishing on the overall podium.

"What can I say, I'm really happy," he said immediately after the stage. "It's crazy - it's a really nice feeling. Obviously I had legs today, I really tried a lot of times and finally I went away on the descent. Of course it was really perfect and I'm really happy with it."

Roglic played off intense pacing from teammate Robert Gesink, and then multiple attacks by Steven Kruijswijk. They couldn't manage to break Team Sky's hold on the race on the climb of the Aubisque but Roglic did on the descent. He will now have to battle Froome for the final podium spot in the 31km time trial to Espelette on Saturday and could go after Dumoulin’s second place.

If Roglic has trepidation or confidence of holding onto third, he wasn't giving anything away.

"The time trial is the same for everyone, we always start from zero. Tomorrow is a new day and a new focus, and for sure I will do my best," Roglic said.

A visibly annoyed Dumoulin gave his respect to Roglic for showing his strength, but blamed the yawning gap to the Slovenian on the interference of the television motorbike.

"He was flying downhill, and eventually I got dropped on a straight part just because he was on his tube and full in the slipstream of the motorbike," Dumoulin said. "I was sprinting to his wheel and I couldn't get any closer. I just got dropped on the only straight part of the downhill. It's ridiculous really."

How it unfolded

There were 146 nervous riders at the start of the last big mountain stage of the 2018 Tour de France in Lourdes: with the daunting Col d'Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, and the final ascent of the Col d'Aubisque standing between their tired legs and the final push to Paris. It would be a fight for the sprinters to keep contact at the back and a battle at the front for the baroudeurs - and one last shot for any GC riders to threaten Team Sky's grip on the race.

First, there was the matter of the category 4 ascents of the Cote de Loucrup and Cote de Capvern-les-Bains in the first 40km, a perfect launching pad for the breakaway artists. Thomas De Gendt's luck continued to elude him, and the Lotto Soudal rider's initial attack was nullified and countered by Damien Gaudin (Direct Energie), Lukas Postlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale).

But their gap did not go out fast enough to prevent a counter-attack from joining them, with Tanel Kangert (Astana), Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) going across. After the second climb, more riders bridged across, making it 18 total out the front, with Katusha-Alpecin chasing due to the presence of Jungels, who began to threaten Ilnur Zakarin's spot in the GC.

Next to join the Jungels group was Warren Barguil and Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Samsic), Arthur Vichot (Groupama-FDJ), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott), Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step Floors), Andrey Amador and Daniele Bennati (Movistar), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain Merida), Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Dimension Data).

Their lead didn't exactly balloon, and at the base of the Col d'Aspin, the 3:30 gap to the peloton was easily bridge-able by the best climbers, and the pace increasingly difficult for riders to hold onto out front. Gaudin, Pöstlberger and Vichot were among the first dropped, and by the summit, there were only 12 left up front. Alaphilippe padded out his polka dot jersey with the maximum points at the top, besting Barguil and Mollema.

Attacks on the Tourmalet

In what would be some of the most scintillating Tour tactics seen this year, the teams inside the top 10 took turns to attack on the final climbs, with the back-markers who needed more time hitting out first on the Col du Tourmalet.

Six riders crested the Tourmalet at the head of the race: Alaphilippe, Nieve, Jungels, Barguil, Kangert and Gorka Izagirre, while behind them, Katusha's pace-making began to make more sense when Zakarin was launched away from the maillot jaune group by teammate Ian Boswell.

AG2R's Dillier, back from the earlier breakaway, did the same for Romain Bardet, and the move was marked by the attentive Mikel Landa (Movistar) with help from Daniele Bennati. Jakob Fuglsang, knowing that teammate Kangert was up the road, went across with Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) for company.

Amador, hearing that Landa was on the move, dropped back from the lead group to help his Movistar teammate, making a six-rider chase group on the Tourmalet with Zakarin, Bardet, Majka, and Fuglsang. But the Astana rider was dropped before the crest of the Tourmalet, and the chasers picked up Adam Yates.

Alaphilippe once more claimed the maximum points on the spectacular Tourmalet, with the Landa group beginning their descent just 27 seconds behind the leaders, and two minutes and change over the ever-shrinking maillot jaune group. Over the top, the chasers dropped Yates, his confidence on the downhills having taken a hit with that crash on the Col du Portillon on stage 16.

Col d'Aubisque brings out the beast

The 11 riders out front came together in the long valley descent before the final two climbs, and Team Sky seemed to have matters under control with five riders protecting Thomas' maillot jaune. Jonathan Castroviejo and Wout Poels handled most of the early chasing, leaving Michal Kwiatkowski, Egan Bernal and Chris Froome to support Thomas later in the stage.

The leaders pushed their gap to 3:30 over the maillot jaune, with Amador using the last of his energy to launch the group into the base of the Col des Borderes before dropping off, putting Landa less than a minute of the maillot jaune virtuel - threatening the positions of Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk.

But it wasn't just fourth place that LottoNL-Jumbo was protecting when Robert Gesink went to the front of the peloton and halved the gap to the leaders. They had a combative strategy up their yellow sleeves and were about to start swinging.

Steven Kruijswijk played off Gesink's efforts and launched himself clear of the Thomas group on the first half of the Aubisque. The GC group had been reduced to just 11 riders - four of them Team Sky, with Kwiatkowski leading. Roglic, Dumoulin, Dan Martin, Quintana, Ion Izagirre, Pierre Latour and Pozzovivo rounded out the group.

Up ahead, the lead group was reduced to just Landa, Bardet and Majka until Zakarin clawed his way across, with 1:30 on the maillot jaune and Kruijswijk coming on strong.

Jumbo attacks

As Kruijswijk opened up a 12 second lead over the Thomas group, Dumoulin launched a move that was marked handily by Roglic. The attacks put Kwiatkowski out of commission, but Thomas was left with Bernal and Froome. Dumoulin waited a moment, then went again, marked by Thomas and Roglic - with Bernal distanced, sitting back pacing Froome. Nairo Quintana's overall hopes came to an end, the injuries from his crash cramping his usually elegant climbing style. He would finish seven minutes down.

Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) then attacked only to be chased down by Roglic - the acceleration distancing Bernal again. Froome was forced to mark Roglic, while Dumoulin was left to chase with Thomas on his wheel. They reeled in Kruijswijk, but Froome was briefly distanced with Bernal and Martin as the maillot jaune group picked up Izagirre and Jungels before the misty crest of the Col du Soulor.

The four leaders had just 16 seconds with 25km to go as they enjoyed a brief respite before the final pitch to the top of the Col d'Aubisque. Kruijswijk attacked again just before Froome's group used a short descent to bridge back to the maillot jaune. Bernal came to the front, and the young rider's steady pace eventually brought the Dutchman to heel and pulled the leaders into view.

Zakarin was caught by the maillot jaune group before the crest, leaving Landa, Bardet and Majka dangling ahead. Roglic saw there were only two more kilometres of climbing in the Tour de France and it was now or never to try his luck. The former ski jumper blasted across to Landa and Bardet but Dumoulin was obliged to chase, bringing Thomas smoothly across. It was tactical racing but fascinating to watch and understand.

Roglic wasn't done yet - there were 750 more metres to the summit. He dug again, marked by Bardet and daylight briefly opened up behind them. Roglic was caught before the crest, and it seemed Thomas' maillot jaune was secure, but what about Froome's podium spot? Over the top, Froome struggled briefly, but soon joined the group with Thomas, Dumoulin and Roglic in sight. It wasn't enough.

As they descended through the clouds through the mist-obscured mountain scape, they reeled in Majka and it seemed there would be a detente on the descent.

Roglic, however, had other plans. He went to the front, fearlessly opening up a gap on the steep, sinuous descent - hoping he could carve out enough time to climb onto the podium in Paris. His daredevil antics put the wobbly Zakarin out the back. Dumoulin had no trouble keeping him in sight, staying behind at a safe, even distance just in case Roglic came to grief.

But as the road became less hairy, Roglic pulled away. Froome popped up to the front for a peek to try to help but Roglic was soon out of sight. The LottoNL-Jumbo rider had 17 seconds with two kilometres to go, and added a couple more seconds before the line to put a golden stamp on his podium bid, 19 seconds ahead of the chasers.

He moved up to third, bumping Froome down to fourth, with Saturday’s hilly 31km time trial another opportunity for another stage victory and who knows what else.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo5:28:17
2Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky0:00:19
3Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 2 - Cell 2
4Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team EmiratesRow 3 - Cell 2
5Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 4 - Cell 2
6Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team SunwebRow 5 - Cell 2
7Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 6 - Cell 2
8Chris Froome (GBr) Team SkyRow 7 - Cell 2
9Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:00:31
10Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 9 - Cell 2
11Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida0:01:47
12Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step FloorsRow 11 - Cell 2
13Egan Bernal (Col) Team SkyRow 12 - Cell 2
14Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:03:39
15Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 14 - Cell 2
16Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team0:03:57
17Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:04:31
18Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:06:52
19Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team0:07:09
20Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team0:07:18
21Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 20 - Cell 2
22Simon Geschke (Ger) Team SunwebRow 21 - Cell 2
23Warren Barguil (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 22 - Cell 2
24Mikel Nieve (Spa) Mitchelton-ScottRow 23 - Cell 2
25Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team0:11:58
26Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:12:36
27David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ0:13:09
28Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team0:14:38
29Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 28 - Cell 2
30Jesper Hansen (Den) Astana Pro Team0:16:59
31Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert0:17:43
32Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 31 - Cell 2
33Maxime Bouet (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 32 - Cell 2
34Kristijan Durasek (Cro) UAE Team EmiratesRow 33 - Cell 2
35Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky0:18:28
36Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step FloorsRow 35 - Cell 2
37Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Team Sky0:19:30
38Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo0:21:41
39Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team SunwebRow 38 - Cell 2
40Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team0:22:53
41Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data0:24:13
42Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott0:29:40
43Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale0:31:41
44Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:31:43
45Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 44 - Cell 2
46Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 45 - Cell 2
47Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 46 - Cell 2
48Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 47 - Cell 2
49Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 48 - Cell 2
50Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:31:55
51Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 50 - Cell 2
52Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 51 - Cell 2
53Kevin Ledanois (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 52 - Cell 2
54Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team SunwebRow 53 - Cell 2
55Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 54 - Cell 2
56Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 55 - Cell 2
57Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 56 - Cell 2
58Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto SoudalRow 57 - Cell 2
59Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 58 - Cell 2
60Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La MondialeRow 59 - Cell 2
61Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension DataRow 60 - Cell 2
62Simon Gerrans (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 61 - Cell 2
63Yoann Offredo (Fra) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 62 - Cell 2
64Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 63 - Cell 2
65Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team EmiratesRow 64 - Cell 2
66Laurent Pichon (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 65 - Cell 2
67Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team SunwebRow 66 - Cell 2
68Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott0:32:05
69Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 68 - Cell 2
70Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 69 - Cell 2
71Florian Vachon (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 70 - Cell 2
72Paul Martens (Ger) LottoNL-JumboRow 71 - Cell 2
73Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 72 - Cell 2
74Elie Gesbert (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 73 - Cell 2
75Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 74 - Cell 2
76Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 75 - Cell 2
77Romain Hardy (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 76 - Cell 2
78Mathew Hayman (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 77 - Cell 2
79Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 78 - Cell 2
80Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 79 - Cell 2
81Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro TeamRow 80 - Cell 2
82Chad Haga (USA) Team SunwebRow 81 - Cell 2
83Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-JumboRow 82 - Cell 2
84Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 83 - Cell 2
85Wout Poels (Ned) Team SkyRow 84 - Cell 2
86Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 85 - Cell 2
87Arthur Vichot (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 86 - Cell 2
88Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-AlpecinRow 87 - Cell 2
89Thomas Boudat (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 88 - Cell 2
90Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 89 - Cell 2
91Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 90 - Cell 2
92Rory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team EmiratesRow 91 - Cell 2
93Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 92 - Cell 2
94Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-SegafredoRow 93 - Cell 2
95Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro TeamRow 94 - Cell 2
96Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar TeamRow 95 - Cell 2
97Amael Moinard (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 96 - Cell 2
98Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 97 - Cell 2
99Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) LottoNL-JumboRow 98 - Cell 2
100Fabien Grellier (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 99 - Cell 2
101Jerome Cousin (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 100 - Cell 2
102Romain Sicard (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 101 - Cell 2
103Ian Boswell (USA) Katusha-AlpecinRow 102 - Cell 2
104Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar TeamRow 103 - Cell 2
105Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data0:32:34
106Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:32:50
107Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 106 - Cell 2
108Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ0:36:22
109Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-SegafredoRow 108 - Cell 2
110Luke Rowe (GBr) Team SkyRow 109 - Cell 2
111Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 110 - Cell 2
112Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:38:23
113Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 112 - Cell 2
114Edward Theuns (Bel) Team SunwebRow 113 - Cell 2
115Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 114 - Cell 2
116Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 115 - Cell 2
117Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-MeridaRow 116 - Cell 2
118Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 117 - Cell 2
119Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 118 - Cell 2
120Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 119 - Cell 2
121Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 120 - Cell 2
122Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-ScottRow 121 - Cell 2
123Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 122 - Cell 2
124Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 123 - Cell 2
125Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 124 - Cell 2
126Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension DataRow 125 - Cell 2
127Jay Thomson (RSA) Dimension DataRow 126 - Cell 2
128Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 127 - Cell 2
129Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 128 - Cell 2
130Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 129 - Cell 2
131Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step FloorsRow 130 - Cell 2
132Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 131 - Cell 2
133Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJRow 132 - Cell 2
134John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-SegafredoRow 133 - Cell 2
135Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 134 - Cell 2
136Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 135 - Cell 2
137Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-SegafredoRow 136 - Cell 2
138Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJRow 137 - Cell 2
139Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 138 - Cell 2
140Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 139 - Cell 2
141Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-HansgroheRow 140 - Cell 2
142Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step FloorsRow 141 - Cell 2
143Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-HansgroheRow 142 - Cell 2
144Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b CannondaleRow 143 - Cell 2
145Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:40:33
DNFJelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 145 - Cell 2
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Intermediate sprint - Sarrancolin, km. 59.5
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energie20pts
2Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar Team17Row 1 - Cell 3
3Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data15Row 2 - Cell 3
4Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe13Row 3 - Cell 3
5Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe11Row 4 - Cell 3
6Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo10Row 5 - Cell 3
7Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors9Row 6 - Cell 3
8Arthur Vichot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ8Row 7 - Cell 3
9Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team7Row 8 - Cell 3
10Warren Barguil (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic6Row 9 - Cell 3
11Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale5Row 10 - Cell 3
12Romain Hardy (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic4Row 11 - Cell 3
13Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott3Row 12 - Cell 3
14Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie2Row 13 - Cell 3
15Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahr