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Tour de France 2019: Stage 18

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of stage 18 of the Tour de France. Today's stage runs 197.5km from Embrun to Valloire taking in three major climbs along the way.

 

 

 

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We're just under an hour away from the start of today's stage, the first Alpine test of the race.

Of course, Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) and Luke Rowe (Team Ineos) won't be starting today's stage. 

 

"The UCI made a decision and we have to live with it," said Ineos DS Servais Knaven after yesterday's stage 17. Read the full story here.

 

Here are the day's three major climbs – the Vars (82.5km), Izoard (133km) and Galibier (189km).

 

 

The early Côte de Demoiselles Coiffées (3.9km at 5.2 per cent) should be a good launchpad for the day's break. It comes 13km into the stage.

 

The last time the Tour de France tackled the Col du Galibier was back in 2017, when Primož Roglič won the stage, attacking the early break and holding off the peloton on the descent from the summit to Serre-Chevalier. Though two years ago, the Galibier was climbed from the north rather than from the south.

 

 

From our reporters on the ground, Luke Rowe and Tony Martin are at the race on their team's respective buses. There's no indication that they'll try to start though. Their bikes aren't parked up outside the buses, for a start.

 

We understand that Jumbo-Visma and Team Ineos are looking to appeal Martin's disqualification to CAS. An appeal to the UCI isn't possible. The deadline is 11am local time, so 16 minutes away, and just ten before the stage starts.

 

An hour before the start of the stage, Steven Kruijswijk, George Bennett and Laurens De Plus had an unexpected doping control on the team bus.

 

"The element that they can come [at any time] is enough, I hope, to deter people that they're never safe,"  said Bennett before the start,

 

Here's Ineos leader outside the team bus this morning. The stage starts in 13 minutes.

 

 

Race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Ineos duo Thomas and Egan Bernal were visited by testers early this morning.

Here's what George Bennett had to say about the doping tests and hour before the start today.

 

"It’s a new one for me, a real new one. I’m still carrying the bandages. It feel a bit like: what the hell are they doing one hour before the start? But I’d rather do this and know that cycling is the cleanest sport in the world, which sounds contradictory with all the scandals we’ve had but I really believe we’re tested more than anybody else, we can be tested at any time, at any hour. I’d rather have this and a little inconvenience and ride in a largely a very clean, competitive sport.

"It’s a pain in the arse but if we all knew they’re never going to come, who knows what people would do? So the element that they can come, I hope is enough to deter people and so they can never cheat. Its good that people know they can come an hour before. It’s a little hectic and little stress before one of the major stages but I’m not going to complain too much about it."

 

The start is just five minutes away now.

 

The stage will kick off with a 15-minute neutralised section ahead of the real start.

 

The riders are off. The neutralised section of the race is underway.

 

Martin and Rowe didn't take the start today. Their race is definitively over.

 

Here's more from Bennett on today's stage and his teammate Martin's disqualification.

 

"It’s going to be a big day, a really big day, three big days.

"I’m not sure [what to expect]. Maybe we’ll see control from one team. Maybe there’ll be a breakaway, I’m almost sure. It’ll be a long hard day, that the only thing I’m sure off.

"I think the next two days are important for Kruijswijk but today is about wearing everyone else down. If we do it smart, we can maybe break down one favourite but it’s not that you’r going to make the big difference today; there’s a long way down from the Galibier to Valloire.
You? I’ still feel good and hope to show it, not too early in the race, hopefully at the sharp end.

"No [it wasn't fair to disqualify Martin], not for that. That stuff happens all the time. If they saw everything that happened in a race, and acted on every skirmish, none of us would make it Paris.

"The problem is that they only saw the last 30 seconds when Tony swerved over the road but that skirmish started a long time before then. I don’t think they should judge Tony on if he over-reacted. It wasn’t great, not a smart thing to do but there’s a lot more to the story than what we saw on TV."

Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) is the other rider to miss the start today. He leaves the race after suffering from saddle sore problems.

 

4.5km of the neutralised zone remains before the start proper.

 

2km from the start now.

 

208km remaining from 208km

And now they're underway. The flag is waved and the racing begins.

 

Riders are attacking right away, of course.

 

It might be a long fight for the break today.

 

Green jersey Peter Sagan is among the riders active at the front.

 

201km remaining from 208km

Riders are still attempting to get away.

 

198km remaining from 208km

CCC are very keen to get a rider or two out front. They have two men leading the way right now. The first climbo of the day is coming up.

 

Astana's Alexey Lutsenko is off the front.

 

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) is up front now.

 

They're 1km from the top of the Côte de Demoiselles Coiffées now.

 

Lutsenko and Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis) are off the front.

 

192km remaining from 208km

The duo crest the summit of the climb.

 

Just ten seconds between the break and peloton at the moment.

 

185km remaining from 208km

It's still just Périchon and Lutsenko up front with a small gap.

 

Plenty of riders are pushing the pace behind.

 

Trentin, Sagan, Oss are among the riders attacking the peloton. The two leaders are just 10 seconds up.

 

Lutsenko pushed on alone but has been brought back.

 

It's all back together now.

 

175km remaining from 208km

Lutsenko is still pushing on, however. Simon Yates is on his wheel. Lennard Kämna and Daryl Impey are there too.

 

Those four have a 15-second lead.

 

Several more riders are trying to get across the small gap. Trentin and Sagan are in there.

 

Ten seconds between the leading quartet and the rest.

 

Thomas De Gendt is also attempting to make it across to Lutsenko's group.

 

168km remaining from 208km

Tiesj Benoot has joined Impey, Lutsenko, Kämna and Yates up front. More riders are coming across now.

 

Caleb Ewan has hit the deck. He just ran off the road onto the grass. He looks ok. Wout Poels stopped behind the sprinter.

 

Here's the latest from Team Ineos, with team boss Dave Brailsford dismissing the suggestion that Team Ineos have a disciplinary issue

 

Manager calls on UCI to show consistency after Rowe-Martin altercation

 

 

 

There's a large group up front now. Maybe 20-25 riders.

 

162km remaining from 208km

The group rolls through the intermediate sprint. Sagan isn't in there.

 

Quintana, Woods, Bardet, Van Avermaet are all in there. More names to come shortly.

 

156km remaining from 208km

There are 33 men up front. They lead the Dimension Data-led peloton by 15 seconds. The South African team missed the move.

 

Romain Bardet, Mickaêl Cherel, Mathias Frank (AG2R La Mondiale)

Nairo Quintana, Andrey Amador, Carlos Verona (Movistar)

Adam Yates, Daryl Impey, Chris Juul-Jensen (Mitchelton-Scott)

Tim Wellens, Tiesj Benoot, Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal)

Greg Van Avermaet, Serge Pauwels, Simon Geschke (CCC Team)

Alexey Lutsenko, Gorka Izagirre (Astana)

Michael Woods, Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First)

Lennard Kämna, Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb)

Mike Teunissen, Amund Jansen (Jumbo-Visma)

Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo)

Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates)

Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis)

Dylan Van Baarle (Team Ineos)

Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin)

Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida)

Amaël Moinard (Arkéa-Samsic)

Paul Ourselin (Total Direct Energie)

Mathieu Ladagnous (Groupama-FDJ)

Maximilano Richeze (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

 

23 seconds for the break now.

 

19 teams are in the move. Dimension Data, Bora-Hansgrohe and Wanty-Groupe Gobert are the only teams that have missed the move.

 

QuickStep, Movistar and Direct Energie are at the front of the peloton now. It looks like the chase is over.

 

Quintana is the best-placed GC rider in the move. He's 9:30 down on race leader Alaphilippe.

 

Two minutes now for the break.

 

149km remaining from 208km

The gap is quickly growing. 3:20 now.

 

The break just passed through the town of Jausiers at around 1200 metres of elevation. They're 20km from the top of the Col de Vars.

 

Philippa York analysis: A Tour de France like this has been a long time coming

 

"The great thing about these three upcoming stages in the Alps is that nothing is decided and no one is certain of what the final outcome will be. And it's been a long time since we've been able to say that about the Tour de France."

 

 

 

143km remaining from 208km

4:40 for the break now.

 

QuickStep and Ineos are on the front the peloton. Three QuickStep men lead the way.

Périchon is receiving medical assistance for a bee sting.

 

134km remaining from 208km

The break start the Col de Vars, six minutes ahead of the peloton.

 

Here's the profile of the climb.

 

 

Mountain classification leader Tim Wellens is in the break today. He had 64 points.

 

The next best-placed men are Romain Bardet and Simon Geschke on 18 points. Tiesj Benoot has 16 points, and Daryl Impey has 10 points.

 

The Col de Vars has 10 points on offer for the first man over the top, followed by 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 for the next five riders.

 

5km from the top and Cherel attacks the break. Not sure why...

 

Cherel is back with the break now.

 

The break are 2km from the top of Vars now.

 

6:40 for the break as they approach the top.

 

Ten points for Wellens over the top. He beats Bardet and now has 74 points in the KOM competition.

 

Tour de France: Rowe and Tony Martin head home after failed pleas to CAS

 

George Bennett: There’s a lot more to the story than we saw on TV

 

 

Lutsenko, Quintana, De Buyst and Rossetto swept up the rest of the points on the Col de Vars.

 

The break now heads down into the valley, over seven minutes up on the peloton.

 

117km remaining from 208km

The peloton crest the summit.

 

Carlos Verona runs off the road on the descent. Only onto the grass verge though. He's ok.

Around 35km to the top of the izoard for the break. The climb itself will take up 14km of that.

 

105km remaining from 208km

The break have reached the bottom of the descent now. They're just over 15km from the base of the Izoard.

 

There's a crash in the peloton on the descent. George Bennett is among the men to hit the deck. He's up and running again though.

 

Meanwhile, Arndt has attacked the break.

 

Nicolas Roche was also involved in the break but he looks ok too.

 

103km remaining from 208km

Arndt has 25 seconds on the break.

 

100km remaining from 208km

Arndt is brought back to the break.

The gap between break and peloton is still 7:30.

 

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Cyclingnews talks to altitude specialist and Wanty-Groupe Gobert coach Samuel Bellenoue

 

 

In they valley, Van Avermaet and Bernard have gone off the front of the break.

 

There's a minute between the two attackers and the break.

 

Bernard and Van Avermaet reach the base of the Izoard. Here's the climb.

 

 

1:15 between the leaders and the break, and 8:15 back to the peloton.

 

Périchon is dropped from the break.

 

It's the 36th time that the Izoard has featured on the Tour route. It was first used in 1922, last used in 2017 when Warren Barguil won at the summit.

 

Arndt and De Buyst are next to drop.

 

Izagirre, Ladagnous, Jansen and Richeze are struggling too.

 

On the Eurosport moto, Brad Wiggins passes a "muppet" on a motorbike, pointing out the bus forming off the rear of the peloton. Vincenzo Nibali is dropping off the back.

 

39.8kph is the average after three hours of racing.

 

Alaphilippe still have four teammates, including sprinter Elia Viviani, at the front of the peloton.

 

83km remaining from 208km

Yves Lampaert and Thomas De Gendt slip out the rear of the peloton.

 

The two leaders are 9km from the top of the Izoard.

 

The two leaders reach the toughest part of the climb now.

 

Van Avermaet and Bernard are taking on 9-10 per cent gradients.

 

Movistar take it up on the front of the peloton now. Bora are there too. Immediately, a number of riders fall away from the peloton.

 

Marc Soler is on the front with Landa on his wheel. Landa attack incoming on the steep section?

 

More riders drop from the break: Ourselin, Impey, Rossetto, Bettiol, Verona.

 

Kwiatkowski, Nibali, Asgreen, Devenyns are off the back of the peloton.

 

David Gaudu is off the back too. Moscon, Castroviejo and Konrad as well.

 

Woods, Quintana, Lutsenko, Bardet, Yates the strongest of the chasers from the break.

 

Just 19 men left in the peloton now... Wow.

 

Kangert and Aru drop. Dan Martin is already gone.

 

Wout Poels was at the rear of the peloton too.

 

The two leaders are 45 seconds on the chase group, while the rest of the break is scattered down the mountain.

 

80km remaining from 208km

Bernard has dropped Van Avermaet. He's 5km from the top.

 

The peloton are within 6:15 of the leaders now. 

 

79km remaining from 208km

Barguil, Porte, Urán are in the GC group on their own. Meanwhile Landa, Valverde and Soler are there for Movistar. Buchmann has a man with him. Bernal and Thomas have Poels there. Kruijswijk has De Plus and Bennett. Pinot has Reichenbach plus Ladagnous from the break. Alaphilippe has Mas.

 

The chase group catches Van Avermaet. Geschke and Caruso are with them now.

 

77km remaining from 208km

5:30 between the peloton and Bernard now. He's 40 seconds up on the chasers.

 

Cherel, Amador and Van Baarle get back to the chase group.

 

76km remaining from 208km

Van Avermaet drops from the chase group.

 

Tour de France: Jumbo-Visma undergo anti-doping blood tests on team bus 45 minutes before stage 18

 

'I'd rather have a little inconvenience and ride in a largely very clean sport' says Bennett

 

 

Pauwels (not Geschke) joins Van Avermaet in being dropped from the chase group.

 

75km remaining from 208km

Caruso and Bardet speed past Bernard at the top of the Izoard.

 

40, 30 and 24 points for Caruso, Bardet and Bernard.

 

Kämna is slightly off the back of that lead group on the descent.

 

Gregor Mühlberger struggles at the back of the peloton.

 

Here are the current KOM standings after the first three climbs of the day:

 

Tim Wellens: 74pts

Romain Bardet: 56pts

Thibaut Pinot: 50pts

Damiano Caruso: 40pts

Thomas De Gendt: 38pts

 

65km remaining from 208km

No action in the peloton on the Izoard.

 

More riders are chasing on the descent. Benoot, Van Avermaet, Van Baarle and Wellens close in on the leaders.

 

The leaders are 60km from the finish now, so 42km from the top of the Galibier and 33km from the hardest section of the climb.

 

Movistar have stopped working at the head of the GC group. They worked up the Izoard, didn't attack, and now have Quintana in the lead group provisionally moving up to 7th on GC.

 

55km remaining from 208km

55km to go and the gap is six minutes.

 

The GC group swells as they slow down in the valley.

 

Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) chased back to the GC group on the descent and immediately attacked them.

 

Ineos take it up at the head of the GC group.

 

50km remaining from 208km

5:45 between leaders and peloton.

 

The leaders are around 8km from the start of the Galibier now.

 

5km to the start of the Galibier for the break now.

 

43km remaining from 208km

Riders attack the break at the base of the Galibier. Wellens, Caruso, Van Avermaet leading the charge.

 

Van Avermaet is dragging Pauwels along, with Woods close behind.

 

Five minutes between the peloton and the break now.

 

Here's the Galibier.

 

 

Lutsenko, Pauwels, Wellens, Woods, Benoot and Kämna are out front now, 30 seconds up on the chasers.

 

Lutsenko, Pauwels, Wellens, Woods, Benoot and Kämna are out front now, 30 seconds up on the chasers.

 

Cherel is there too.

 

39km remaining from 208km

20km to the top of the climb for the leaders.

 

Tour de France podcast: The fallout from Rowe and Martin being expelled

 

We debate race rules, ask if Ineos have a discipline problem and discuss the effects of losing key riders

 

Caruso, Quintana, Bardet, Yates bridge to the lead group.

 

36km remaining from 208km

There's a tailwind on these lower slopes.

 

33km remaining from 208km

Castroviejo and Poels lead the peloton.

 

Riders who caught back on to the peloton are starting to drop again. Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) is one of them.

 

30km remaining from 208km

Castroviejo drops off the front just as Van Baarle drops back from the break. The Dutchman takes over on the front.

 

10.5km to the top for the leaders.

 

Thomas and Bernal have two men, Kruijswijk has two men, Pinot has two men, Landa has two men. Pinot, Buchmann and Urán have one apiece.

 

Mühlberger and Kreuziger drop from the GC group.

 

Yates, Kämna, Benoot and Pauwels drop from the lead group.

 

28km remaining from 208km

Lutsenko is pushing it on at the front.

 

The leaders are on the Galibier proper now. They had been riding up the Lautaret to this point. 8.5km to the top.

 

Lutsenko was pushing the break early on today and he's really flying. He's attacking again at the front just as Benoot and Kämna made it back.

 

The four men with him hang on to the Kazakh.

 

26km remaining from 208km

Woods tries a move but Quintana shows why he's a GT winner and simply leaves his breakmates behind with a stinging attack.

 

Quintana has 20 seconds on them almost immediately.

 

Bardet and Lutsenko drop Caruso and Woods. They're over 30 seconds down on Quintana now.

 

25km remaining from 208km

6km to the top for Quintana.

 

Still, Van Baarle leads the peloton.

 

Geschke and Van Avermaet drop back to the peloton.

 

24km remaining from 208km

Quintana is 5km from the top now.

 

Poels drops from the peloton. Van Baarle is still there, however.

 

Poels, Kwiatkowski and Moscon haven't looked to be in the form they had during previous Tours...

 

22km remaining from 208km

Marc Soler drops from the GC group too.

 

Quintana has 50 seconds on the chasers. He's 3km from the summit.

 

Bardet pushes on with Lutsenko still on his wheel.

 

21km remaining from 208km

1:15 between Quintana and Bardet now.

 

De Plus drops from the GC group.

 

1.5km to the top for Quintana.

 

Wow, something actually happened! Bernal attacks.

 

Mas takes it up in the chase.

 

Mas looks like he's recovered from his illness a few days ago.

 

19km remaining from 208km

Bardet drops Lutsenko. He'll take the KOM jersey today.

 

19km remaining from 208km

Quintana crosses the summit alone. Just the descent to Valloire for him now.

 

20 seconds between Bernal and the GC group.

 

1:45 between Quintana and Bardet as the Frenchman crests the summit.

 

35 seconds for Bernal now.

 

Bardet is the new KOM leader.

 

16km remaining from 208km

Thomas attacks!

 

Buchmann and Pinot chase.

 

Landa, Kruijswijk, Uran, Alaphilippe are chasing too.

 

Alaphilippe is struggling.

 

He's gone!

 

13km remaining from 208km

Pinot attacks now!

 

Alaphilippe crests the summit around 10-15 seconds down on the GC group.

 

Pinot's attack brought Thomas back. Bernal is still out there.

 

Alaphilippe chases on the descent.

 

Uran, Thomas, Pinot, Buchmann, Kruijswijk chase Bernal, who is 25 seconds up the road. Alaphilippe is 20 seconds back.

 

10km remaining from 208km

10km to go for Quintana.

 

Alaphilippe is back with the GC group now. Bernal, Thomas, Pinot and co waited too long to attack – he looked in real trouble after they did.

 

Alaphilippe goes straight to the front of the group on the descent.

 

6km remaining from 208km

6km to go for Quintana.

 

Porte is back with the GC group.

 

35 seconds for Bernal now.

 

10km to go for Bernal.

 

3km remaining from 208km

Final 3km for Quintana and it starts raining.

 

Quintana should be in 7th or 8th place after today, depending on how far back Landa and his group finishes.

 

Bernal looks to be riding into second or third if his 30-second gap holds.

 

1km remaining from 208km

Final kilometre for Quintana.

 

Have to wonder how much time Quintana would have if Movistar didn't start working for no reason on the Izoard, but whatever.

 

Nairo Quintana wins the stage!

 

George Bennett has reportedly crashed on the descent.

 

Bardet finished in second place, 1:35 down.

 

3km to go for Bernal.

 

Lutsenko takes third, 2:28 down.

 

A nice ride from the Kazakh, who attacked all morning and several times on the Galibier. Van Avermaet took the combativity prize today, but I would've given it to Lutsenko.

 

Kämna and Caruso cross the line in fourth and fifth.

 

Bernal is coming in to the finish now with Pauwels on his wheel.

 

4:47 down for Bernal, who catches Woods and Benoot on the line.

 

5:18 for the GC group. Bernal takes around 30-32 seconds.

 

Barguil trails the GC guys by around 30 seconds, and Valverde comes in shortly afterwards.

 

A stage win for Quintana and Bernal should move up into second place on GC.

 

Stage result

 

1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 5:34:15
2 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:35
3 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:02:28
4 Lennard Kämna (Ger) Team Sunweb 0:02:58
5 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:03:00
6 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:04:46
7 Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First
8 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos
9 Serge Pauwels (Bel) CCC Team
10 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:05:18

 

General classification after stage 18

 

1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 75:18:49
2 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos 0:01:30
3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos 0:01:35
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:01:47
5 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:01:50

 

Geraint Thomas reacts after the finish.

 

"We wanted it to be hard but the pace wasn't there. The call was made for Egan to go and hopefully that would kick if off a bit, but it didn't. That's when I went as well, just to test. But at least Egan gained some time on everyone else."

Here's today's winner, Nairo Quintana.

 

 

Quintana talking about his win.

 

"It was a really grand day for me, and it was within the team strategy. I was ready for it. It's a beautiful win, and on a stage like this, with this type of profile, it makes me emotional."

 

Lost in the major storylines of the stage – the two Colombians winning and gaining time, and Alaphilippe dropping and making it back – Romain Bardet is the new mountain classification leader.

 

Bardet has 86 points to Tim Wellens' 74. Damiano Caruso and Nairo Quintana are on 60 and 58 points.

 

Here's our stage report as well as results and a gallery. A full report and results will follow later on.

 

Enric Mas, key domestique for race leader Alaphilippe, reacts to stage 18.

 

"We did our very best, so we’re happy. We’ve still got about a lead of about 1:30 and now there’s only two hard days left in this Tour."

Tour de France podcast: The fallout from Rowe and Martin being expelled

 

We debate race rules, ask if Ineos have a discipline problem and discuss the effects of losing key riders

 

Our full stage 18 report is up now. There's a 60-photo gallery as well as full stage results too.

 

 

Alaphilippe defends yellow with daredevil descent as Quintana wins stage 18 - Video

 

Highlights from an eventful first day in the Alps

 

 

Alaphilippe: If I crack I want Pinot to win the Tour de France

 

Race leader remains ahead of the chasing pack but loses time to Bernal

 

 

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