Warren Barguil extended his lead in the mountains classification with a strong performance on the final climb of the day to take his second stage win of this Tour de France.
Barguil attacked on the Col d’Izoard with 10km to go and hoovered up the remnants of a breakaway, finally catching the last man UAE’s Darwin Atapuma with just 800m to go and surging past him to take the stage win. The win also seals his victory in the polka dot jersey with not enough mountain points for second place Roglic to overtake him, the Frenchman’s lead at 89 points.
The stage was the last real test for Chris Froome to hold onto the yellow jersey and the real sting in the tail of the stage was the last 60km which included the climb of the Cat 1 Col de Vars before the summit finish on the HC Col d’Izoard.
The day began with a breakaway group of four riders which eventually got away after around 10km or racing. The foursome were Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Lilian Calmejane (Direct-Energie), Alessandro de Marchi (BMC) and Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Oscaro) but they weren’t allowed to get too far away and eventually they were chased down by a group of 47 other riders to form a large breakaway.
Team Sky were happy to let them go despite having missed out on the break, but Bora-Hansgrohe weren’t and they were put on the front of the peloton to do the chasing. De Gendt wasn’t thrilled at being in so much company either and he constantly tried to get away again to form a smaller group at the head of the race but he was unable to do so.
The gap was over 8′ as they reached the foot of the Vars but that didn’t stop the attacks from coming from within the break; the main instigator being Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) who attacked with the summit in sight and was followed by Atapuma, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Romain Sicard (Direct-Energie) and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal). Lutsenko took full mountain points but with none of the riders in contention for the polka dot jersey the move was more about a stage win.
Such as large group was always going to be fractious and on the descent and valley before the Izoard the group was losing riders and regaining them constantly with no real cohesion amongst them. In the peloton AG2R had moved onto the front to try and reduce the numbers in the peloton on the climb which was playing into the hands of Team Sky who were yet to be needed to drive the pace and were saving themselves for the final assault.
An attack came from the breakaway on the approach to the Izoard with Lutsenko taking Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Oscaro) and Nicholas Edet (Cofidis) with him with around 20km to go in the stage. Despite the strong attack initially, it wasn’t long before Lutsenko was on his own on the climb as Hardy and Edet fell by the wayside. Lutsenko continued on alone without a proper chase assembling behind but once the breakaway got organised the catch was inevitable.
Atapuma was the driving force in the catch on once the Astana rider was back in their midst he attacked himself with 6km left to go as he made his bid for his first Tour de France win. In the peloton AG2R had burned through their riders and had whittled the peloton down to a handful of riders but Team Sky were still present in strength and Froome was comfortable, surrounded by his teammates.
As AG2R moved off the front to be replaced by Team Sky, Barguil took his opportunity to attack, taking Alberto Contador with him as the gap to Atapuma was 1’45”. Contador was unable to stay with Barguil though and dropped back to the GC group at the front of the peloton. Barguil continued up the mountain in pursuit of Atapuma as Mikel Landa (Team Sky) launched his own attack to prompt the GC riders into action.
Following Landa were attacks from Dan Martin (QuickStep) and Romain Bardet (AG2R) but whenever they got some daylight Froome was able to bring them back. With 3km to go Froome attacked himself and was able to bring Landa back to the group but was unable to shake Bardet and Uran as Martin began to suffer.
As Barguil caught Atapuma to take the stage win Romain Bardet was trying to prise Froome from yellow with a series of attacks that were always marked by the maillot jaune, the last of which coming with just 500m to go. Bardet was unsuccessful though and Froome followed him over the line to stay in yellow, despite losing a few bonus seconds on the line.
Tour de France 2017 Stage 18: Briancon>Izoard 179.5km
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Warren Barguil (Sunweb – Fra)||4:40:33″|
|2||Darwin Atapuma (UAE – Col)||+20″|
|3||Romain Bardet (AG2R – Fra)||s.t.|
|4||Chris Froome (Team Sky – GBr)||s.t.|
|5||Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac – Col)||+22″|
|6||Mikel Landa (Team Sky – Spa)||+32″|
|7||Louis Meintjes (UAE – RSA)||+37″|
|8||Dan Martin (QuickStep – Ire)||+39″|
|9||Simon Yates (Orica-Scott – GBr)||+59″|
|10||Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo – Spa)||+1’09”|
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Chris Froome (Team Sky – GBr)||78:08:19″|
|2||Romain Bardet (AG2R – Fra)||+23″|
|3||Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac – Col)||+29″|
|4||Mikel Landa (Team Sky – Spa)||+1’36″|
|5||Fabio Aru (Astana – Ita)||+1’55”|
|6||Dan Martin (QuickStep – Ire)||+2’56”|
|7||Simon Yates (Orica-Scott – GBr)||+4’46”|
|8||Louis Meintjes (UAE – RSA)||+6’52”|
|9||Warren Barguil (Sunweb – Fra)||+8’22”|
|10||Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo – Spa)||+8’34″|