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Tour de France 2019: Stage 18

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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.

 

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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

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

198km remaining from 208km

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

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

185km remaining from 208km

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

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

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

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

162km remaining from 208km

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

156km remaining from 208km

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 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.

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143km remaining from 208km

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

Here's the profile of the climb.

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

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.

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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

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

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.

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

103km remaining from 208km

100km remaining from 208km

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

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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

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.

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

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

79km remaining from 208km

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

77km remaining from 208km

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

76km remaining from 208km

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

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

75km remaining from 208km

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:

65km remaining from 208km

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

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

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

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

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

36km remaining from 208km

33km remaining from 208km

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

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.

28km remaining from 208km

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.

26km remaining from 208km

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

Still, Van Baarle leads the peloton.

Geschke and Van Avermaet drop back to the peloton.

24km remaining from 208km

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

Bardet pushes on with Lutsenko still on his wheel.

21km remaining from 208km

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

19km remaining from 208km

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

Buchmann and Pinot chase.

Landa, Kruijswijk, Uran, Alaphilippe are chasing too.

Alaphilippe is struggling.

He's gone!

13km remaining from 208km

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

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

Porte is back with the GC group.

35 seconds for Bernal now.

10km to go for Bernal.

3km remaining from 208km

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

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.

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

Geraint Thomas reacts after the finish.

Here's today's winner, Nairo Quintana.

Quintana talking about his win.

 

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.

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.

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

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

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

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