-Stage 18 from Lourdes to Hautacam is 143.2km long
-After a fast start, van Aert and 20 other riders formed the attack of the day
-Pogacar and Vingegaard got away on the Col de Spandelles but then Pogacar crashed on the descent
-Van Aert was up front when the attack was caught and dropped Pogacar, allowing Vingegaard to win alone and set-up overall victory
-Friday's stage to Cahors is a day for the sprinters
Bonjour and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 18 of the 2022 Tour de France.
As we get up to speed, the riders are signing on in Lourdes, ready for this final mountain stage of the 2022 Tour de France.
It's a huge final day in the Pyrenees and so much could happen on the three big climbs of the stage.
As always, we'll have full live coverage of all the action.
Sadly two more riders are out of the Tour due to COVID-19. Movistar team announced that their road captain Imanol Erviti tested positive for the virus this morning.
Damiano Caruso also headed home after struggling in the Pyrenees, with Bahrain Victorious revealing he was also positive for COVID-19.
Erviti is the first Movistar rider to catch COVID-19 during the 2022 Tour de France. It is only the second time in his long career as a domestique and road captain that he has failed to finish a Grand Tour. He has started 28 Grand Tours and only failed to finish the 2012 Tour de France.
It is the first time Caruso has abandoned a Grand Tour after completing 15 three-week races.
Ineos is next on stage. They still have a full team of eight riders despite some illness.
They again wear yellow helmets during the stage as leaders of the team classification.
Groupama-FDJ are on stage next. They will be hoping that David Gaudu can keep fighting for a top-five place overall.
Nairo Quintana is only 4 seconds ahead of him in fourth and so the two will be locked in their own race on the climb to Hautacam.
This is today's stage. It includes the mighty Aubisque, the Col de Spandelles and then the finish at Hautacam.
It's the final chance in the mountains for the climbers! Will the Aubisque, col de Spandelles and Hautacam provide the perfect playing ground? ⚔️L’Aubisque, le Col de Spandelles et Hautacam, un terrain parfait pour une dernière bataille au sommet ? ⚔️#TDF2022 pic.twitter.com/FZ73P3mGBeJuly 21, 2022
We're 15 minutes from the start of the stage.
Jonas Vingegaard is on stage with his Jumbo-Visma teammates. The Dane is eating a ice lolly to try to stay cool.
It's currently 28C in Lourdes but cooler at the Hautacam finish, which was above the clouds earlier this morning.
The sign-on podium is in the centre of Lourdes and several riders will be looking for a miracle today.
They include Tadej Pogacar, who is on stage now.
It's going to be tough but i'm going to give my all," Pogacar says when it is pointed out today is his last chance to pull back time on Vingegaard.
After losing Rafa Majka before Thursday's stage, Pogacar has just three teammates:
Marc Hirschi, Mikkel Bjerg and Brandon McNulty.
The riders are starting to line-up for the roll out.
It's time for the pre-tace fist-pumps.
The riders roll out of Lourdes.
🌪 The calm before the storm...🌪 Le calme avant la tempête...#TDF2022 pic.twitter.com/OUr9zbZX4tJuly 21, 2022
The riders face a short 3.1km neutralised sector.
140 riders start the stage.
Also missing is Chris Froome, who announced he has COVID-19 just before the roll out.
The flag drops the stage starts!
The road climbs straight away and there are attacks.
Froome published a brief message, expressing his disappointment but saying he plans to ride the Vuelta a Espana.
Unfortunately I won’t be taking the start today due to covid-19 😔 #TDF2022 pic.twitter.com/RJziNXG52dJuly 21, 2022
Another fast start and another Wout van Aert attack!
He was joined by Neilson Powless but is now solo.
Riders are chasing van Aert to try to form the break of the day.
Van Aert is still 10 seconds ahead of the chasers. Jumbo clearly want him up the road to help Vingegaard later in the mountains.
The intermediate sprint comes after 58km of valley roads and so van Aert can score more points but he has already secured victory.
Politt and Teuns are chasing, but so is Tiesj Benoot, also of Jumbo-Visma.
130km to go
Jumbo seem to want to give it back to UAE.
Their attacks have put Mikkel Bjerg in difficulty.
💛 Let the battle commence!💛 Que la bataille commence !#TDF2022 pic.twitter.com/PVj7K654erJuly 21, 2022
After a 13km attack, van Aert is caught.
Who is next to go?
We have more attacks.
Van Aert goes again!
Is he attacking to hurt UAE and Bjerg?
125km to go
Stan Dewulf of AG2R is up front but is marked by Christophe Laporte and others.
120km to go
The speed is super high from the very start. The average speed is over 50km/h.
The race is fluid and ever changing.
EF are especially aggressive today and in a small group off the front with Laporte.
Laporte, De Wulf, Leknessund, Vermeersch, Bissegger and Matthews are on the attack.
Schachmann and Van Poppel are trying to go across but it's a big task.
The gap is only 10 seconds.
Cofidis are lead the chase to try to keep Geschke in contention for the KOM points on the first big climb.
He needs to score some points in the hope of keeping the polka-dot jersey all the way to Paris.
Gruppo compatto after 33km fast racing.
110km to go
Teams and riders know that this is their last chance to win a stage.
Bjerg is still chasing in the team cars. He's suffering but slowly getting back to the peloton. But how much will the chase cost him?
This tweet and photo from Bora says it all.
🇫🇷 #TDF2022all back together, all strung out. it’s crazy fast. pic.twitter.com/OHNcH6sTAyJuly 21, 2022
The pace is so high the police motorbikes are being caught in the action.
Now we have a new attack of 15 riders.
Geschke is trying to go across again.
Ciccone is also in the attack and is a rival to Geschke.
Bettiol is there too, plus Benoot for Jumbo.
The USA's Matteo Jorgenson is up front too.
Geschke did not make it across and there are more attacks.
100km to go
A group is closing down the attack.
The peloton seems to be easing up.
There are 27 rider in the front group.
They lead by 35 seconds but Geschke and van Aert are still trying to inspire the peloton to chase.
Benoot ups the pace as van Aert drags a small group across to them.
One day we'll know just how much van Aert was riding for himself and how much for the Jumbo team.
Van Aert wants to join the group to take the Laruns intermediate sprint in 10km or so.
Perhaps he wants to set a new green jersey points total in Paris.
A squeeze in the road ends with Jack Bauer (BikeExchange - Jayco) crashing into a team car.
Fortunately he had slowed somewhat but he still hit the UAE car.
Team DSM ride Nils Eekhoff also crashed just ahead, sparking the slam on.
90km to go
Bauer and Eekhoff both need medical treatment from the doctor's car.
Interestingly, QuickStep are now chasing the attack.
They want to keep Jakobsen up front as much as possible. If the break goes away, that makes it harder for Jakobsen to finish inside the time limit.
Interestingly, Vingegaard comes up to ask QuickStep to ask what they're doing.
He wants his teammates up the road, so wants the gap to out.
85km to go
The rider have a stiff tailwind but they've raced at 49.61km/h for the opening hours.
All on stage 18 of the Tour. Ouch.
The Laruns sprint is coming and then the riders hit the Col d'Aubisque.
Van Aert surges to score maximum points at the intermediate sprint.
That's another 20 points in the bag.
Will van Aert ease up?
No. He stays up front as other riders push on. Why give up a free ride?
van Aert works on the front but the peloton is only 15 seconds back as the Col d'Aubisque starts in earnest.
80km to go
The Col d'Aubisque is 16.4km long at 7.1% and so shake out the break and the peloton.
Indeed the sprinters and rouleurs in the break are dropping back.
Jumbo have taken control in the peloton, with Nathan Van Hooydonck and Sepp Kuss on the front for Vingegaard.
The peloton is at 1:00 as the lower slopes of the Col d'Aubisque.
The sperinters are slipping back from the peloton. There will soon be calls of 'gruppetto, grupetto,' a call for unity so that they ride together and all finish inside the time limit.
On Wednesday, Fabio Jakobsen made the time cut by just 15 seconds.
Click below to read out full story.
This is the Col d'Aubisque. It is Hors Category and oe of the historic climbs of the Tour.
7km to go the summit of the Col d'Aubisque.
Pogacar takes a bidon and pours the cold water over him. Kuss makes sure Pogacar does not open a gap.
The peloton is 1:50 down on the 22 attackers, with Louis Meintjes in the middle at 1:00 with a teammate.
Simon Geschke's hopes of winning the polka-dot jersey seem over. He has lost contact with the yellow jersey group.
He needed to score points on the Col d'Aubisque.
71km to go
The pace is steady in the peloton and so riders keep jumping up the road.
😂 The #TDF2022 peloton is blessed.😂 Le peloton du #TDF2022 est béni. 👋 @OutOfCycling pic.twitter.com/M9k6Kx1KYTJuly 21, 2022
70km to go
These are the 20 riders up front.
Giulio Ciccone, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) Tiesj Benoot, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Bob Jungels (Ag2r-Citröen), Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Enric Mas, Carlos Verona, Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar), Valentin Madouas, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan), Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-EasyPost).
Other riders have been dropped.
There's a moment of study and control on the higher slopes of the Col d'Aubisque.
Vingegaard has Nathan Van Hooydonck and Sepp Kiss with him, with Pogacar has McNulty and Thomas has Yates.
Jumbo is slowly letting the break go away on the Col d'Aubisque.
Van Aert drags the attackers to the top of the Col d'Aubisque.
Ciccone jumps away to score 20 KOM points. He now has 61, three ahead of Geschke, who was hoping to defend the polka dot jersey.
Meintjes summits some 50 seconds later, while Neilson Powless is at 1:30.
64km to go
The peloton passes the Col d'Aubisque at 3:15.
The road now descends through the trees but the views across the high Pyrenees are spectacular.
Of course, the riders do not have a lot of energy to enjoy the views.
Meintjes is 1:10 behind the attack as he tries to go across and perhaps gain time in the GC.
He's seventh in the virtual GC but this is a big effort by the South African.
54km to go
The riders are on the exposed high roads of the Haute Pyrenee. Spectacular.
Arkea are on the front of the peloton on the fast descent, they're defending Quintana's 4th place overall.
This is a twisting 15km descent and Pogacar has joined Arkea up front to up the pace.
Vingegaard is forced to go after him.
Meintjes and Hamilton have caught up with Mas in the descent of col du Soulor.
There are again races within the race today, as riders battle for places in the top ten as well as the stage and the overall victory.
🤩 No words needed #TDF2022 pic.twitter.com/ZmWKWNEVslJuly 21, 2022
The end of the descent can only mean one thing. It's time to climb again.
The riders start the steep and narrow Col de Spandelles. It is little more than a farm track.
Here we go!
Big Nut McNulty is back on the front as UAE take control of the peloton.
His pace will surely test everyone.
Van Aert is still in the break and still riding on the front. He wants to be up there for Vingegaard later on.
But after such a big effort, will be able to do anything later?
Geraint Thomas moves across the road and asks 2 Jumbo soigneurs for drinks. Both unsportingly refuse. That's not nice.
40km to go
McNulty's pacing is eating into the gap on the break and spitting riders out of the back.
Vlasov is struggling, Pidcock has already been dropped.
Vingegaard has Kuss and Thomas is there but Bardet and Gaudu seem to be suffering.
These are the riders in the yellow jersey group.
onas Vingegaard, Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Tadej Pogacar, Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), Geraint Thomas, Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers), Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), David Gaudu, Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ), Romain Bardet (Team DSM) and Alexander Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe).
However Yates is also struggling to stay in contact.
Here we go!
Pogacar ups the pace and blows the group apart.
Now it's just him and Vingegaard.
They quickly blast up to Meintjes.
They're only 2:20 down on the attackers, which has also split.
Pogacar eases and so Kuss gets back on.
Behind Thomas chases with Quintana, with Gaudu a few metres behind.
Pogacar and Vingegaard still have 5km to climb.
Up front van Aert is leading the attack with Pinot and Dani Martinez of Ineos.
Thomas gets back on. Quintana too.
But Bam! Pogacar attacks again!
Vingegaard is on him and Kuss is there too.
Attack number 3 from Pogacar!
Vingegaard is on him and Thomas too.
Now Thomas attacks!
There are 3km for the GC to climb on the Col de Spandelles.
Thomas leads by 50 metres but Kuss is pacing Vingegaard.
Pog goes again!
Ufff! Pogacar and Vingegaard blast past Thomas!
Vingegaard had to suffer to get onto Pogacar's wheel that time.
Is that a sign he's starting to suffer?
Pogacar's normal pace is not super fast, with Thomas able to peg the gap.
Up front van Aert is trying to stay away so he can help Vingegaard in some way.
It remains to be seen if van Art can actually do anything to help on the climb to the finish.
Pinot is with van Aert and could try to win the stage.
There is also the nasty, technical descent.
It is 18km long to the foot of the Hautacam.
Van Aert is the first to the top of the Col de Spandelles.
He can't win the polka-dot jersey, so what was he doing?
Attack again from Pogacar!!
They are just 1:35 down at the summit.
Will Pogacar attack on the descent too?
Thomas is 30 seconds down at the summit.
Vingegaard wobbles on the descent. He puts his foot out to stay up!
Pogacar opens a gap but Vingegaard closes quickly.
He's up and riding but they're both taking risks.
Pogacar went wide into the gravel and then lost control of his bike.
Vingegaard waits for him!
That's incredibly sporting and they shake hands.
Pogacar didn't crash at speed but has a hole in his shorts and some road rash under his thigh.
25km to go
Pogacar calls for his team car.
Does he need a new bike?
He talks to his team car but does not change his bike. But he was animated and something is wrong.
20km to go
The pace of Pogacar and Vingegaard has slowed, so Thomas is only 10 seconds behind now.
This is the Pogacar crash.
Sportief! Pogacar knalt onderuit in een bocht, Vingegaard wacht #TDF2022 pic.twitter.com/9bSOCH59GkJuly 21, 2022
Soon after the two shook hands, Pogacar thanking Vingegaard for waiting for him.
Sportief! Pogacar knalt onderuit in een bocht, Vingegaard wacht #TDF2022 pic.twitter.com/9bSOCH59GkJuly 21, 2022
15km to go
The riders are at the foot of Hautacam and Thomas and others join Vingegaard and Pogacar.
Thomas calls his team car.
The Hautacam is famous for several previous finishes.
Today's race will only add to the history.
Up front are van Aert, Pinot and Dani Martinez.
All three would be incredible stage winner.
This is Hautacam. That steep, black section explains why it is such a hard climb.
It is 13.6km long at 7.7%. It takes about 40 minutes to climb.
The Vingegaard group is 2:30 down on van Aert, Pinot and Martinez.
Behind Gaudu and Quintana are locked in a battle for fourth and fifth.
In the attack, Pinot covers his head and body with cold water. He has been dancing on the pedals and seems keen to attack van Aert and Martinez.
Kuss is pacing Vingegaard on the last major climb of the Tour. He is escorting him nearer and nearer to victory.
10km to go
Gaudu attacks Quintana with teammate Madouas and they manage to get away.
Thomas is still with Kuss, Vingegaard and Pogacar.
Will Pogacar soon try another attack? They're only 1:00 the Pinot attack now.
Van Aert must know that his own teammates are chasing him as Kuss sets a fast pace.
He attacks and only Martinez can go with him.
Pinot seemed to crack mentally there.
8km to go
Kuss is again doing an vital team role today. Part of Vingegaard's eventual success is his.
Behind everyone else is fighting to limit their losses and hold their GC position.
This is a dramatic day of Grand Tour racing.
Thomas is dropped!
There is still 7km to climb to the finish.
Van Aert and Martinez lead Kuss, Vingegaard and Pogacar by just 30 seconds.
Pogacar wants to win the stage but Vingegaard perhaps also wants to win in the yellow jersey.
Lutsenko and Verona are with Thomas. They were in the early break and have survived this far.
Everyone is just trying to ride in and limit any losses.
5km to go
Up front Martinez and van Aert after joined by Kuss, Vingegaard and Pogacar.
Incredibly van Aert is able to pace Vingegaard and Pogacar.
Thomas is 50 seconds back.
Gaudu had gained a minute on his GC rivals Quintana.
Pinot is pacing his younger teammate after being in the attack.
Pogacar is suffering! He's dropped!
He's already lost 10 seconds!
Van Aert is doing some incredible pacing for Vingegaard here.
Now Vingegaard goes solo!
Van Aert moves off and he is totally spent. He gave his all.
Yet he manages to sit on Pogacar as he chases Vingegaard.
But the young Dane is strong and opening a gap with every pedal stroke.
2.5km to go
Vingegaard leads Pogcar by 35 seconds.
He is going to win the stage in yellow and surely cement his overall success.
The crowds are huge near the summit.
Stay safe Jonas!
Fortunately he is into the barriered sector.
Pogacar's white jersey is open as he suffers and chases.
But we've seen a very human Pogacar this year. He's lost 40 seconds to Vingegaard now.
Vingegaard has extended his virtual GC lead to 3:00.
This is the moment Pogacar cracked.
😱 @TamauPogi can't follow @WoutvanAert and Jonas Vingegaard!😱 @TamauPogi ne peut pas suivre le tempo imposé par @WoutvanAert et Jonas Vingegaard !#TDF2022 pic.twitter.com/iQRANQaBRcJuly 21, 2022
1km to go
Vingegaard is close to winning the stage and so the 2022 Tour.
Vingegaard reaches the finish at Hautacam and wins the stage solo.
He's 1:00 ahead of Pogacar.
Jonas Vingegaard blows a kiss and punches the air.
Pogacar finished 1:03 behind.
Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma) is named as the winner of the Prix Antargaz de la Combativité.
He also finishes third on the stag at 2:10 and celebrates too.
Thomas finishes fourth at 2:53 with another brave, gritty ride.
Gaudu is just behind him and so secures fourth overall.
Today's time cut is given at 40:47. It will be a real battle for Fabio Jakobsen and the other sprinters.
In the podium area, Pogacar again congratulates Vingegaard and then cools down on the rollers a little despondently. He knows his chance of winning the 2022 Tour have gone.
Here is the first shot of Vingegaard's stage win in yellow.
This is the moment Vingegaard won the stage.
A HUGE moment in Danish cycling 👏🇩🇰 Jonas Vingegaard takes a giant step to winning the 2022 Tour de France 🤩#TDF2022 | @JumboVismaRoad | @discoveryplusUK pic.twitter.com/Er0HDEBYL6July 21, 2022
This is how Pogacar finished. He gave his all but Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma were stronger.
This was the moment Vingegaard won the stage.
💪 A monstrous effort from Jonas Vingegaard 💪 Un effort monstrueux de Jonas Vingegaard !#TDF2022 pic.twitter.com/UamPquNrpVJuly 21, 2022
Jonas Vingegaard spoke about why he wanted to win the stage in the yellow jersey.
"It's incredible. This morning I said to my girlfriend and daughter I wanted to win for them and I did. I'm really really happy and proud I won for them. This one is really for my two girls at home," he said soon after the finish.
"I was just happy it finally ended. It was incredibly hard. I'm also really happy I won the stage. Now there's still two more days to come before we are in Paris so we need to keep focus and we'll take it day by day again."
He also explained what happened when Pogacar crashed.
"I think he missed the corner and then he went down into the gravel and tried to steer it out and the bike disappeared under him. Then I waited for him." Vingegaard explained.
"I have to thank all my teammates, they're incredible. You see Wout van Aert dropping Tadej Pogacar in the end, Sepp Kuss was incredible, everyone was incredible, Tiejs, Christophe, Nathan, they were all incredible.
"Thanks so much to my teammates, I could never done this without them."
Incredibly Wout van Aert climbed to 22nd on GC with his ride today.
He also has Saturday's time trial to add another victory and more time.
Adam Yates has been sick for several days but fought to stay in the top ten.
A top ride from @AdamYates7 today. He sits 10th overall at #TDF2022 with the mountains now in the rearview mirror 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/hmYNXm40cHJuly 21, 2022
Louis Meintjes also rode well and is now sixth overall.
Louis Meintjes is now 6th overall of @LeTour after his magnificent attacking display in stage 18 🤩 #TDF2022📸 @PhotoNewsBe pic.twitter.com/brKvoew9NZJuly 21, 2022
Geraint Thomas again fought all the way to the finish. He is still third overall, at 8:00.
In a hugely successful day for Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma, he also took the polka-dot jersey after Simon Geschke was unable to get into the early break and so score as few points to defend his narrow lead.
Geschke was in tears when he reached the finish.
To read out full stage report, see pour growing photo gallery and the full results, click below.
MVP today was Wout van Aert.
💛 An exhausted Yellow Jersey but a victorious Yellow Jersey atop the Hautacam! And an always graceful @TamauPogi!💛 Un Maillot Jaune épuisé, mais un Maillot Jaune triomphant aujourd'hui à Hautacam ! Et un @TamauPogi toujours aussi fair-play !#TDF2022 pic.twitter.com/6kwOCe7rE3July 21, 2022
Wout van Aert was immense today, going in the break again, scoring more green jersey points, staying away on the high mountains and then being there to help drop Pogacar and set-up Vingegaard.
He was naturally voted the Combativité of the stage and probably will win the Combativité prize for the whole Tour.