Bonjour and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 18 of the Tour de France.
As the Cyclingnews blimp takes height over the Alps, the riders are signing on the stunning ski resort of Meribel.
Today's stage is 175km long but the riders face a 21km neutralised sector as they descent the valley from Meribel. The stage will actually start in Moutiers.
AS always, we will have all the live action as the final Alpine stage offers a last chance for Tadej Pogacar to attack race leader Primoz Roglic and for other riders to move up the GC.
Le terrain de jeu du jour 🤩Playground of the day 🤩#CofidisMyTeam #TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/V0woTBK3fOSeptember 17, 2020
We're expecting to see a real fight to get in the break of the day as soon as the flag drops and the stage begins. Later there could also be attacks on the key climbs before the fast descent to the finish in La Roche-sur-Foron, close to the border with Switzerland.
Marc Hirschi is just one of the stronger riders looking to get in the early attack.
He won stage 12 to Sarran and could be a threat today.
🎙🇨🇭 @MarcHirschi "J'espère que ce sera ma journée. J'espère être dans l'échappée puis on verra ce que nous pouvons faire."#TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/0lphG7E0wvSeptember 17, 2020
This is what the riders face today.
5 categorised ascents and many more lumps... Have a look at the detailed gradient from a climbing-packed Stage 18 of #TDF2020 #TDFdata | @GlobalNTT pic.twitter.com/D2UEIi4A16September 17, 2020
As you may have seen, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) claimed the queen stage 17 of the Tour de France on the Col de la Loze on Wednesday, powering away from a select group on the punishingly steep slopes of the ascent to the Méribel ski station to celebrate the stage victory and a new third-place position in the overall standings.
As the Colombian powered away, Roglič cagily waited until Kuss looked back and waited, leaping across to the American and then jumping away from the only remaining rivals: Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), who were unable to respond.
Roglič could not quite catch Lopez, finishing the stage 15 seconds behind, but importantly taking the time bonus and another 15 seconds on the best young rider and second-placed Pogačar to extend his advantage to a slightly more comfortable 57 seconds.
To read our full stage 17 report and to see the full results and our 50-image photo gallery, click this link.
This was the top ten at the summit of the Col de la Loze.
|Place||Rider (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team||04:49:08|
|2||Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma||00:00:15|
|3||Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates||00:00:30|
|4||Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma||00:00:56|
|5||Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo||00:01:01|
|6||Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team||00:01:12|
|7||Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren||00:01:20|
|8||Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott||00:01:20|
|9||Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling||00:01:59|
|10||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma||00:02:13|
Due to the different time gap on the Col de la Loze, this is how the new top ten on GC looks:
Roglic now leads Pogacar by 57 seconds. Lopez is third at 1:26, with a close battle for the other places in the top 5.
|Place||Rider (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma||74:56:04|
|2||Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates||00:00:57|
|3||Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team||00:01:26|
|4||Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo||00:03:05|
|5||Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott||00:03:14|
|6||Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling||00:03:24|
|7||Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren||00:03:27|
|8||Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team||00:04:18|
|9||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma||00:07:23|
|10||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team||00:09:31|
The five categorised climbs means there are a haul of mountain points awarded during the stage and the polka-dot KOM jersey is up for grabs.
Pogacar leads the KOM competition now, with 66 points, ahead of Roglic and Lopez but Benoît Cosnefroy has 36 points and could still be a threat if he gets in the break, while Pierre Rolland is also on 36 points and is a major threat too.
🎙🇫🇷 @PierroooRolland "It's possible to take the polka dot jersey. Honestly you can't dream about it, it's close to being mission impossible. I'll try and take the points but to be honest I feel tired."#TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/goTTPR9cndSeptember 17, 2020
Ineos Grenadiers sign on now but they are without team leader Egan Bernal, who did not start yesterday's stage.
his absence continues to spark debate, with team manager Dave Brailsford hitting back at comments from 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.
Click this linkbelow to get the full story.
Brailsford admitted "Every now and then you need a kick in the balls".
Wiggins said: Had it been football, Dave Brailsford would be out,” to which Brailsfrod replied: “He’s got a lot to say for himself, Bradley. He’s a funny guy.”
“I know him very well so I can take it with a pinch of salt. Funnily enough he was in agreement to start with when I took those decisions and now he’s not."
There are five minutes to the roll out now. The riders are gathered at the start, under a warm September sun.
However there is a risk of rain later in the stage due to possible thunderstorms in the mountains.
5-4-3-2-1. They're off! The riders roll out of Meribel.
🇫🇷 #TDF2020 Another hard day coming up. Six climbs and over 5000 altitude metres 🚩 in a few seconds pic.twitter.com/dYdnjA9QFtSeptember 17, 2020
👋 pic.twitter.com/mI6R89Ijl3September 17, 2020
The riders are on the hairpin descent from Meribel. Roglic is on the front of the peloton. He is more and more the patron of the race.
🚩 We set off from Méribel as the départ fictif is given!🚩 Le départ fictif a été donné de @Meribel3vallees !#TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/GV4wucG6zASeptember 17, 2020
The only non-starter today is Jens Debusschere of B&B Hotels, who finished outside the time limit yesterday.
Here's Tadej Pogacar in the polka-dot jersey at the start.
The ultimate polka dot outfit with @TamauPogi 👌🙌•••#TdF2020 @sporza_koers #deTourVandaag @radio1be @een pic.twitter.com/uH9wudbjFZSeptember 17, 2020
4km to the official start.
Get ready for the attacks!
The riders are on the valley road now and tucked in behind the red race director's car.
Sam Bennett is up front in the green points jersey.
The intermediate sprint comes after just 14km in Aime and so he will be determined to take maximum points.
Peter Sagan will be trying to beat him and take the maximum points but both Deceuninck and Bora will have to control the breakaway attacks.
The intelligent breakaway riders will probably wait until after the intermediate sprint.
Here we go. Race director Christian Prudhomme drops the flag and the stage is officially underway.
And we immediately have attacks!
Top départ de la 18e étape du #TDF2020 !Le programme du jour offre un enchaînement de 5 cols pour un total de 4 000 mètres d’ascension 🤯#CofidisMyTeam #TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/s24mAzdM7xSeptember 17, 2020
The riders are on the wide valley highway and so it is difficult to get away.
After the loss of Jens Debusschere there are 150 riders in the race today.
Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) crossed the line at the Col de la Loze 35:45 behind the stage winner.
The clocked then stopped soon after and his teammate Debusschere, who had helped so much during the stage was further back and was not able to finish within the time limit. The Tour ended for Debusschere in disappointment.
Click below to read the full, emotional, story.
168km to go
The speed is up and a the peloton has snapped, with 30 or so riders up the road.
Jumbo-Visma are leading the chase.
There are 32 riders in the front group.
The peloton is 35 seconds behind, with Tony Martin riding for Jumbo.
Bennett, Sagan and Trentin are upfront in the attack and ready to fight for the intermediate sprint.
They are the three big contenders for the green jersey.
Bora duo Kamna and Schachmann are now trying to go across to the group.
1km to the sprint. This will be a real battle.
Jungels leads out Bennett, with Trentin and Sagan on his wheel.
Bennett wins it! Ahead of Trentin and then Sagan.
The official results confirm that Bennett takes the sprint and so scores 20 points. Trentin scored 17 and Sagan 15.
Bennett now leads Sagan by 52 points.
There are 50 points awarded on the flat stages and so Bennett now has a significant lead in the green points jersey. It is surely now is to lose.
Top job from @BobJungels and @Sammmy_Be at the intermediate sprint, which is won by the Irish Champion, who extends his advantage in the green jersey classification to 52 points!#WayToRide #TDF2020Photo: @BeelWout pic.twitter.com/zfOJVI04s9September 17, 2020
Here is the video of the sprint.
Bennett wint de tussensprint voor Trentin en Sagan pic.twitter.com/DpNfaWBBRhSeptember 17, 2020
The 32-rider attack has pushed out their lead to 1:30 now.
B&B Hotels missed the attack and Pierre Rolland is not there, so they are trying to chase the attack down.
B&B bring Kämna and Schachmann back but they face a hard chase.
There are four Ineos riders, four Movistar and four Sunweb in that group, including Hirschi. Bahrain have Bilbao in there. Astana have Sanchez.
The best placed on GC is Carapaz at 19:55. This is the third consecutive day he is in the break.
A lot of the 32 riders in the attack are working to keep the speed high. That is making it hard for B&B, even as the road begins to rise as the 18km-long Cormet de Roselend nears.
😬😖 Les #MenInGlaz emmènent le peloton derrière les 32 échappés car aucun coureur du @BBHotels_VC n'est à l'avant.#TDF2020 l #ThereIsNoTry pic.twitter.com/ZeccCcNr8ZSeptember 17, 2020
By missing the attack, B&B are doing the early work for Jumbo and race leader Roglic.
As the climb starts, the peloton is 1:40 back and B&B seem to have missed their chance to close down the attack. Rolland could try to jump across but that is a very big ask.
Total have also missed the attack and so are also chasing. their speed is starting to spit the sprinters out of the back.
Sam Bennett also slips back from the attack after taking maximum points in the sprint. He has only to focus on getting to the finish inside the time limit now.
The Cormet de Roselend is a gradual 6% climb up the side of the mountain. It is not steep but is long and takes the riders up t o1986m.
Behind Rolland has attacked with a teammate. Alaphilippe is also there, as is Kamna and Romain Sicard of Total.
The chasers are 1:00 behind now, with the peloton at 1:35.
Jumbo is leading the peloton and closed down other surges, including one futile surge by Guillaume Martin.
He is 11th overall and would have upset the controlled pattern of the race that Jumbo are trying to establish.
🇫🇷 @GuilmMartin tries to attack from the peloton by @JumboVismaRoad won't let him go. He's back in the peloton.🇫🇷 @GuilmMartin a essayé de sortir du peloton mais la @JumboVismaRoad en a décidé autrement...#TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/ESe3Xy66KeSeptember 17, 2020
Other riders are trying to attack from the peloton now, including Caruso, Hirt from CCC and Warren Barguil of Arkea.
The attacks are hurting Jumbo. Tony Martin has been dropped and so they only have five riders on the front now.
Caruso catches and passes the Alaphilippe/Rolland group and goes away from them.
But the peloton is only 20 seconds behind them now.
Jonathan Castroviejo is dragging the break along because Ineos have 4 good riders in the attack.
With Peter Sagan also dropped, there are 28 riders up front. They include:
Jonathan Castroviejo, Richard Carapaz, Michal Kwiatkowski, Dylan Van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Nans Peters (Ag2r La Mondiale), Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Rudy Molard, Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren), Tejay Van Garderen (EF Education First), Dayer Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Dario Cataldo, Nelson Oliveira, José Joaquín Rojas, Carlos Verona (Movistar Team), Simon Geschke, Nicolas Edet, Jesús Herrada (Cofidis), Luis León Sánchez (Astana Pro Team), Jasper de Buyst, Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Krists Neilands (Israel Start-Up Nation), Michael Gogl, Michael Valgren (NTT Pro Cycling), Nikias Arndt, Marc Hirschi, Soren Kragh Andersen, Nicholas Roche (Team Sunweb).
The speed is hurting lots of riders.
Sadly Andre Greipel has abandoned the Tour.
How do you like then polka-dots?
🔴⚪️ First day for @TamauPogi in the polka dot jersey ! #TDF2020 #UAETeamEmirates #RideTogether pic.twitter.com/llDVUP7vrcSeptember 17, 2020
As the gradient of the Cormet de Roselend eases, Hirt and Carthy jump away from the peloton.
Further up the road, Caruso has joined Bettiol and Gogl and they work together to try to get back to the front group.
There is still over 7km to climb on the Cormet de Roselend. It's an early hour of pain.
Caruso is on a charge and is about to get across to the front group.
There are 19 riders in the move now.
This is the break of the day.
There are 130 rider in the peloton as Jumbo set the pace with 5km to go.
Robert Gesink is back on the front but Jumbo may be slightly concerned about the aggression and the loss of some riders.
The road cuts up the side of the mountains, creating stunning views across the Alps.
The final Alpine stage of the 2020 Tour is another roller coaster with four big climbs, with barely any respite in the 4,000m of climbing. Indeed a late change to the route means there are close to 4600m of climbing, making it the stage with the most altitude of climbing of this year's race.
After the Cormet de Roselend, comes the Saises and Aravis before the Plateau de Glières.
The Cormet de Roselend and Saisies made their Tour debuts in 1979, while the Aravis appeared on the route the first time the Tour went into the high Alps, during the 1911 race.
It’s another stern test of climbing aptitude and endurance. From the top of the last climb, it’s another 30km to the finish, and not all of that is downhill. If you include the climb, that’s well over an hour of racing. This is not the time for solo heroics, but even less so is it the time for a bad day.
The climb up to the Plateau de Glières is a tough climb 6km at 11.2%. It is followed by a rolling gravel section through the plateau.
For 2020 they’ve given it the headline slot on the final Alpine stage of the race and so it could inspire some attacks amongst the GC riders.
The climb came early in the stage in 2018, and the overall shape of the stage discouraged GC action, so the break was just left to get on with it.
The first rider over the top in 2018 was Julian Alaphilippe, en route to the stage win, and the mountain points title.
The Frenchman has a long history with the climb - in the 2013 Tour de l’Avenir, representing France at the age of 21, he was the solo winner of a stage that finished at the top.
Back on the Cormet de Roselend, the attackers are 1.5km from the summit.
There will soon be attacks and sprint for the KOM points.
Behind Primoz Roglic is safely tucked in the wheel of his Jumbo teammates.
Further back, Caleb Ewan is 7:00 back and riding with teammates Frison and Kluge. The gruppetto is at 5:00.
The riders left in the attack are:
Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-McLaren) rejoins Richard Carapaz, Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), Nans Peters (Ag2r La Mondiale), Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren), Dario Cataldo, Nelson Oliveira, Carlos Verona (Movistar Team), Simon Geschke (CCC Team), Nicolas Edet, Jesús Herrada (Cofidis), Luis León Sánchez (Astana Pro Team), Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Marc Hirschi, Nicholas Roche (Team Sunweb).
Carapaz attacks for the KOM points.
But Hirschi is on his wheel and beats him to the line.
Hirschi scored ten points, with Carapaz taking 8.
Hirschi now has a total of 41 points, while Carapaz has 40. That is the battle for points in the break of the day.
If they stay away, they can score enough points to take the polka-dot jersey from Pogacar.
#TDF2020 @MarcHirschi takes 1st on the Cormet de Roselend, moving up to 41 points in the KOM jersey standings.⚪️🔴👉🏻https://t.co/vDoKg56ZB4 pic.twitter.com/dRilMpa0RwSeptember 17, 2020
123km to go
The riders are on the descent to Beaufort now, but have no time to stop for a taste of the local cheese.
This was the sprint for the KOM points.
⛰ Fierce battle between 🇨🇭 @MarcHirschi and 🇪🇨 @RichardCarapazM up the Cormet de Roselend. 10 points for the Swiss rider.⛰ Grosse bagarre entre 🇨🇭 Marc Hirschi et 🇪🇨 Richard Carapaz au Cormet de Roselend. Le Suisse marque 10 points.#TDF2020 #TDFunited pic.twitter.com/6zmLwU7xagSeptember 17, 2020
The races passes near the Lac de Roselend, offering some stunning views.
They are also racing on the fast descent.
🇨🇭 @MarcHirschi and 🇪🇨 @RichardCarapazM have been able to build a slight lead in the descent as the peloton trails the break by 2'55".🇨🇭 @MarcHirschi et 🇪🇨 @RichardCarapazM ont pris quelques longueurs d'avance dans la descente et le peloton est à 2'55".#TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/pWEAQMNRlOSeptember 17, 2020
Hirschi and Carapaz have pushed on and opened a 20-second lead on the long descent.
The riders climb the short 3rd category Côte de la Route des Villes. There really is little flat road today. It's either up high into the Alps or down into the valleys.
Ineos are taking on the race and splitting the attack.
There are five riders up front now, with Kwiatkowski, Bilbao and Edet joining Carapaz and Hirschi at the head of the race.
Kwiatkowski is driving this break along and he's shown some clear intent today. He's probably Ineos' strongest rider in the race - on a consistent level - even though Carapaz is on the attack for the third day running. So far it looks as though Ineos are trying to set up the former Giro winner once again.
Hirschi was top at the Côte de la route des Villes, so picks up another two points. He's a real contender for the KOM jersey if the break can stay away for the rest of the stage. Carapaz is just a few points behind though.
We only have a short section in the valley before we start climbing the Col des Saisies. We've got just under 100km to go but this climb is a brute at 14.6km in length and an average gradient of more than 6 per cent.
We're onto the climb and Hirschi drops back to the team car for some gels. He's up against it today, with two Ineos riders in this break but he's taken maximum points so far. This climb will give us a real indication though as to whether he can really take on Giro winner Carapaz - who has been on the attack three days running.
Quintana, who was dropped earlier, came back but has now been dropped again. He dropped down to 15th yesterday.
Back with the bunch and Robert Gesink continues to tap out a steady pace. The bunch are 4'40 down on the five leaders.
The Jumbo Visma pace at the front of the peloton is too much for Sagan and now Alaphilippe, as George Bennett comes up and gives Gesink a rest.
With the Giro Rosa going on , don't forget to head over to our dedicated section for women's cycling. It's right here and it's jam-packed with news, tech, interviews, and race reports.
It's all about containment for Visma right now, as they hold the break at five minutes. We've got 90km to go on the stage and 7km on this climb.
The Caruso/De Gendt group is about 58 seconds behind our five leaders but only a few riders are working and the Belgian tries to up the pace.
De Gendt is getting a lot of help from LL Sanchez and the pair are dropping riders like flies from this second group on the road. The bad new is that the five leaders still have a minute.
About 3km to go until we reach the summit and Edet is slipping back from the leading group. Cofidis have put so much into this year's Tour but it's just not really happened for them. So far...
It's time for another Hirschi Carapaz KOM sprint.
Yet again Hirschi wins it thanks to his faster sprint. He sweeps up 5 points.
The remains of the attack also reach the summit of the Col des Saisies but are 1:35 down on the leading 4 riders.
Crash for Hirschi on the descent.
His rear wheel slipped out and he slid along on his left side. Fortunately he went in to the grass on the side of the road.
He gets up and is chasing but his bars are damaged.
Just before Hirschi had been arguing with Carapaz and Kwiatkowski about who did the work.
Behind the Jumbo lead peloton passes over the summit of the Col des Saisies, some 5:45 back.
73km to go
Hirschi is trying to chase but the other three attackers are not waiting for him.
Hirschi is 45 seconds behind now. He still needs a bike change.
He may have lost his chance of a stage victory.
This is the Hirschi crash. Fortunately he was not injured.
💥 🇨🇭 @MarcHirschi crashes in the descent! Fortunately, he is back on his bike.💥 🇨🇭 Marc Hirschi chute dans la descente ! Heureusement, il remonte aussitôt sur son vélo. #TDF2020 #TDFunited pic.twitter.com/Lh2jvXT1J5September 17, 2020
The CN blimp is flying near the Aravis Massif as the riders begin the climb of the Col des Aravis.
It is is 6.7km long at an average of 7%. It's a 1st category and is the fourth major climb of the stage.
Edet managed to get back up to Carapaz, Kwiatkowski and Bilbao but as the road rises, he drops off the back again.
If he's suffering now, then its going to be tough for the Frenchman on the final HC category Plateau de Glières.
In the GC battle the stage has so far been a day of study and waiting for the Plateau de Glières.
Primoz Roglic has been well protected by his Jumbo team, even if the attacks forced them to sacrifice and lose Tony Martin and Amund Grøndahl Jansen.
On the early climbs George Bennett and Robert Gesink did a lot of the work, with Wout van Aert now helping out on the front.
There are still six 'killer wasps' on the front of the peloton, including Roglic.
60km to go
Up front Hirschi has changed bikes and is chasing hard. He is only 30 seconds down on the attackers now.
The attackers have 2.5km climb on the Col des Aravis.
The climbs has been in the Tour de France some 41 times and was first included back in 1911 when the Tour de France first included the Alps.
Just three riders remain up front now as @kwiato, @RichardCarapazM and Bilbao (TBM) continue up the Col des Aravis. The peloton are now over seven minutes down. 61km to go #TDF2020(📸 A.S.O./Alex Broadway) pic.twitter.com/Clko3WAK6nSeptember 17, 2020
There are again large crowds on the summit of the Aravis, sadly some are shouting loudly at the riders and not wearing masks correctly.
Carapaz edges away and takes the 12 KOM points at the summit of the Col des Aravis. Bilbao was second and scores 8 points. Kwiatkowski was third and scores 6 points.
Behind Nairo Quintana has been distanced from the peloton. The Colombian has been suffering after crashing earlier in the Tour.
The remains of the break reach the summit of the Aravis but they have slipped to 4L:30 back. The peloton is still climbing and is at 8:30.
There are only 90 or so riders in the peloton as many grab bidons and musettes at the summit.
It's vital moment for them to feed before the fast descent and then the climb of the Plateau de Glières.
Jumbo-Visma seem in total control of the peloton and their GC rivals so far.
38km to go
The three riders up front are also taking on food.
The 'bar' closes 15km from the finish today at the foot of the final Col des Fleuries climb.
Here we go. It's time for the Plateau de Glières climb. It's Hors Category, not for it's short at 6km but is very steep at an average of 11.2%.
The road includes a rolling gravel section that could spark some punctures and line-out the riders.
At the summit the finish is only 29km away.
Inside the final 40 kilometers of #TDF2020 stage 18 and the trio up front are tackling the early slopes of Montée du Plateau des Glières. In 2018, @alafpolak1 was first at the top in #TDF2020, five years after winning a Tour de l'Avenir stage there.Photo: @GettySport pic.twitter.com/Uy5e7TJUHdSeptember 17, 2020
In the GC peloton its a real sprint to the foot of the Plateau de Glières. Everyone knows position is vital for the final climb.
This is the steep profile of the Plateau de Glières.
Race on! Suddenly Bahrain McLaren surge away from the GC peloton, with Poels riding to set-up Landa.
Bahrain rode to set-up Landa yesterday on the Col de la Loze but then he suffered and was distanced.
He and Bahrain are willing to try again today. Chapeau.
Upfront the Ineos duo of Carapaz and Kwiatokowski have distanced Bilbao.
Landa is riding in his usual position, with his hands on the drops but out of the saddle.
He's opened a 20-second gap but Jumbo are trying to control him. Bennett has finished his work and is dropped.
Roglic 'only' has kuss, Dumoulin and van Aert to ride for him now.
However the pace is hurting. Uran is suffering and is distanced.
There is still 33km to race and so Uran could drop down the top ten.
Landa is cutting through the early breakaway riders like a hot knife through butter.
He will soon join teammate Caruso up the road and so the Sicilian can perhaps help hid team leader.
Landa started the stage in 7th overall but is pulling back time and is virtually up to fourth overall.
Adam Yates and Alejandro Valverde have been dropped on the Plateau de Glières climb.
The 11% gradient is hurting.
The pace set by Wout van Aert is once again hurting other team leaders and climbers.
Van Aert is a mutant in the way he can sprint, climb and even win cyclo-cross races.
There are only 8 riders in the GC group: Primoz Roglic, Tom Dumoulin, Sepp Kuss, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)
Enric Mas (Movistar Team), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), Miguel Ángel López (Astana Pro Team).
At the summit of the Plateau de Glières Carapaz and Kwiatkowski ride together and hit the dirt sector.
Carapaz took the maximum points again. He is clearly targeting the polka-dot jersey.
Behind Landa leads the GC group by 20 seconds but he is not going away.
Mas attacks from the GC group but Roglic has Kuss to lead the chase and set the pace. Dumoulin has been distanced.
On the dirt road the two Ineos riders satay sat in the saddle to stop wheel slip and the risk of crashes.
Behind Caruso is pacing Landa but the Roglic group closes them down with Pogacar on the front as they near the summit.
The GC riders hit the 2km dirt sector.
Pogacar is pushing the speed on the dirt sector. Roglic follows him.
Puncture for Porte!
Roglic is upping the pace on the dirt climb. but there is still 27km to race.
Roglic is pulled back but only Pogacar, Lopez, Mas and a few others are with him.
Porte took a bike change and is chasing as the descent begins.
Kuss is back with Roglic.
20km to go
Porte is chasing alone and so could lose a chunk of time today.
Porte is in a group with Dumoulin, Van Aert, Caruso and Verona at around 40 seconds.
Adam Yates is a further minute back, with other GC riders scattered across the fields of the Plateau de Glières.
Roglic is still setting the pace on the descent, he doesn't want other riders to get back on.
The race will soon hit the Col des Fleuries. It is a final 5km climb and could inspire attacks.
Up front Carapaz and Kwiatkowski are still working together.
The two Ineos riders will soon have to decide who wins the stage. Carapaz is the new leader of the mountains competition, so will he let Kwiato win?
With Roglic are Landa, Lopez, Pogacar, Kuss and Mas.
Porte is chasing at 15 seconds, but has Dumoulin and van Aert on his wheel.
Pelo Bilbao has been swept up by the Roglic group and so is helping Landa hold off the Porte chase group.
After the changes in GC, Landa could move up to fourth.
Jumbo have opted to help Porte get back on, with van Aert and Dumoulin sharing the work. That will help the Dutchman stay in the top ten and then perhaps climb even higher in Saturday's time trial.
Up front Michal Kwiatkowski and Richard Carapaz are at summit of the Col des Fleuries.
The crowds are huge again, people are wearing masks but their is very little social distancing.
🇦🇺 @richie_porte, 🇳🇱 @tom_dumoulin and 🇮🇹 @CarusoDamiano are back in the Yellow Jersey group!🇦🇺 @richie_porte, 🇳🇱 @tom_dumoulin et 🇮🇹 @CarusoDamiano sont de retour dans le groupe Maillot Jaune !#TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/o3vmjxzF5gSeptember 17, 2020
Porte's return means he is 2:40 ahead of Adam Yates now and 3:00 ahead of Uran. That will help his GC hopes.
Carapaz and Kwiatkowski are just 4km from the finish.
Who will the stage? They have had a chat but it's a difficult decision.
Carapaz will pull on the polka-dot jersey and so perhaps Kwiatkowski will get the stage.
But they talk again. They both deserve the victory. Carapaz has been on the attack for three days but Kwiatkowski played a huge part in today's attack staying away.
Carapaz and Kwiatkowski hug each other and begin celebrating.
Kwiatkowski wins the stage but the two finished together.
The photo finish is needed to con firm it as they two crossed the line together in celebration.
Behind the GC rider sprint in.
Wout van Aert sprints to take third and the 4 bonus seconds.
What a ride from the INEOS Grenadiers!@kwiato wins stage 18 at #TDF2020 alongside teammate @RichardCarapazM in a 1-2 finish 👏Carapaz also moves into the polka dot jersey 🔴 pic.twitter.com/3DXP6VGHxZSeptember 17, 2020
Here comes the Yates and Uran group. They've lost around 2:40.
The photo finish confirms Michał Kwiatkowski as the stage winner but its a special day for Ineos after losing team leader Egan Bernal yesterday.
This is the top ten for the stage:
1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers 04:47:33
2 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
3 Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:01:51
4 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:01:53
5 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 00:01:53
6 Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo 00:01:54
7 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 00:01:54
8 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 00:01:54
9 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain McLaren 00:01:54
10 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:01:54
This is the new GC:
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 79:45:30
2 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:57
3 Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team 00:01:27
4 Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo 00:03:06
5 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 00:03:28
6 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 00:04:19
7 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 00:05:55
8 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling 00:06:05
9 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:07:24
10 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:12:12
This is the shot of Carapaz and Kwiatkowski finishing together.
Today's photofinish pic.twitter.com/IOzpORa59HSeptember 17, 2020
This is for the teamThis is for my familyThis is for those fans, who never stop believingThis is something I will never forgetThanks @RichardCarapazM, @INEOSGrenadiers pic.twitter.com/X5kLMozv7aSeptember 17, 2020
That was another entertaining stage, even if little happened in the fight for the yellow jersey.
Roglic continues to lead Pogocar by 57 seconds, with Miguel Angel Lopez third at 1:27.
Kwiato was emotional about his stage win.
"That was some day. I can’t describe how grateful I am to the whole team and to Richard [Carapaz]." he said.
"It was an incredible day for us and I will never forget that. I’ve had some nice moments in cycling but that was something new. I’ve got goose bumps for the last kilometers because I knew that the gap was so big that we would make it. Both of us really enjoyed the last kilometers. It’s incredible.
"We’re going to celebrate big time tonight because we all deserve it. We put on a show today and we have to enjoy that."
Asked if he had a message for team leader Egan Bernal watching from home after he abandoned the Tour, he said:
"Hopefully he will be alight. He was really sad when he was leaving the race but he was wishing us good luck," Kwiatkowski said.
"I hope that he enjoyed that on television because that was some race. Collectively we tried in the last three days, everything that we could to win the stage, and be in the breakaway and finally today but we found our best legs ever. The way we rode with Richard, it was just incredible."
We have some great photographs of Kwiatkowski and Carapaz celebrating together.
A group containing Nairo Quintana finishes some 29:00 down.
Here's Kwiato talking about his stage win and Ineos's big day out.
"I will never forget that"🏅 Today's stage winner @kwiato ⬇️#TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/ggDciMF9YMSeptember 17, 2020
Sam Bennett has also made it home inside the time limit. He keeps his green points jersey.
"I will never forget that"🏅 Today's stage winner @kwiato ⬇️#TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/ggDciMF9YMSeptember 17, 2020
Here's another shot of Carapaz and Kwiatkowski.
Not everyone enjoyed the day. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Rigoberto Uran (EF) lost 2:40 in the GC race.
They slipped to seventh and eighth, while Landa ands Mas moved up to fifth and six respectively.
Primoz Roglic was happy to keep the yellow jersey. Friday's stage is for the sprinters or a breakaway, while Saturday's time trial will now surely crown Roglic as the 2020 Tour de France winner for Sunday's ride into Paris.
"It was two hard days in a row, yesterday and also today. Again the team did a great job - I was there, so one day less," he said.
"It's always a lot of space to do a lot of things, you had a lot of climbs. We managed it really good with the full team and we bring it to the end here.
Roglic said he didn't know about Porte's puncture.
"I did not know, I was just riding for myself because it's the safest thing," he said.
"It's the only thing I can manage - so far we did a really nice job with the team but still there are some tricky days to come.
"After the time trial there will be a decision known of the rankings but also tomorrow is another day to be really focussed. It's far from being really safe."
Here's Roglic as he pushed the pace on the dirt roads of the Plateau de Glières.
Kwiatkowski movingly dedicated the Ineos 1-2 to the late Nicolas Portal, their former directeur sportif who passed away suddenly in March.
For Nico 🖤 @INEOSGrenadiers #GreaterTogethet https://t.co/yBUEmNFUMwSeptember 17, 2020
Ineos also celebrated Richard Carapaz taking the polkadot jersey.
Bravo @RichardCarapazM! 🙌🔴⚪️ #TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/EXAnjnR91dSeptember 17, 2020
To read our full stage report and see our growing photo gallery and full reports, click the link below.
The report has details of all the action. There was even an intruder at the finish today but he was swiftly dealt with by race staff and police.
WE also have results and reports from the women's Giro Rosa and the other races held today.
Click this link for the latest on Annemiek van Vleuten's crash.
We'll be back on Friday with full live coverage of stage 19 from Bourg-en-Bresse to Champagnole.
It's a short stage at 166km but has some rolling roads before the sprinters get their say.
We'll wrap up our live coverage with some final photos from the stage.
The dirt sector atop the Plateau de Glières added an extra twist.
From the peaks of the Alps, the Tour de France riders can virtually see Paris now.
They have just two more stages to race.
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