Stage Report: Movistar’s Nairo Quintana hadn’t shown much interest in the Tour de France so far this year, but then the Alps arrived today. The Colombian was part of the early break, but rode away from the others on the Galibier to cross the line solo. Team Ineos attacked; Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) survived to hold the lead, but Egan Bernal (Ineos) moved into second place overall.
Nairo Quintana takes stage 18
A lot has happened so far in the 106th Tour de France, but the overall victory is still a mystery… There were six riders that could possibly win the Tour, but that was before the start of stage 18 to Valloire. Did we see the cracks in the yellow jersey holder Julian Alaphilippe get a little wider today?
Big day ahead for Julian Alaphilippe
Stage 18 Route:
The first day of the end of the 2019 Tour de France. 208 kilometres from Embrun to Valloire with four climbs on the route. The first; the Cat.3 Côte des Demoiselles Coiffées (3.9km at 5.2%) tops at only 13 kilometres from the start and should be the starting ramp for the ‘break of the day’. From then on things get a bit serious. The Cat.1 Col de Vars (9.3km at 7.5%) comes at 82.5 kilometres. Next up the Cat.HC Col d’Izoard (14.1km at 7.3%), then the humungous Col du Galibier at 2,642 meters altitude, a 23km climb at 5,1%. The summit is 19 kilometres from the finish line in Valloire. Fireworks on the Galibier?
Ready for the off
The start was mainly about the exclusion of Tony Martin and Luke Rowe. The story is well-known now. Both riders were disqualified by the race jury for a ‘disagreement’ on stage 17. Jumbo-Visma and Team Ineos filed a joint appeal with the CAS, but it turned out to be wasted effort.
Sagan thought it was an easy day yesterday – Today will be different
For many riders and teams, this was one of the last chances for success, and so we had a spectacular start to the stage. After more than 50 kilometres and countless attack attempts, there was still no escape group.
No time to look at the lake view
Large lead group with strong climbers
Eventually after 50 kilometres of racing, 34 riders managed to take a gap, and were allowed to ride away by the peloton. Many strong climbers were represented, including Nairo Quintana, Romain Bardet, Adam Yates, Lennard Kämna and Michael Woods. They were joined by five Belgians: KOM Tim Wellens, Tiesj Benoot, Greg Van Avermaet, Serge Pauwels and Jasper De Buyst. The leading group also had Mike Teunissen and Dylan van Baarle. Jumbo-Visma and Ineos had men at the front, but what about Movistar? The blue telecom brigade had three up front: Quintana, Andrey Amador and Carlos Verona.
Another day in the break for Greg Van Avermaet
The Col de Vars
The lead for the break increased to more than 6 minutes, but the escape did not get any more, due to Quintana being the best placed rider off the front. The Colombian was only down on Alaphilippe by 9 minutes. After 70 kilometres, the front group reached the foot of the Col de Vars. It was Wellens who crossed the summit first emerged ten kilometres later, ahead of Bardet. This gave the Belgian 10 more points for the KOM jersey. The peloton – led by Deceuninck – Quick-Step – came up almost 8 minutes later, making Quintana almost the virtual overall leader. On the fast descent of the Vars, Nicolas Roche and George Bennett crashed.
Once Deceuninck – Quick-Step had bunt all its matches, Ineos took over in the GC favourites group
The New Zealand rider recovered and rejoined the peloton in time for the second climb of the day: the Col d’Izoard. At the front, Van Avermaet attacked as he wanted to survive the Alpine giant, so the Olympic champion accelerated for the base. Van Avermaet had the Frenchman Julien Bernard for company at the start of the Izoard. The following group were at more than 1 minute, but they did not panic as there was more than 11 kilometres to go to the top. Behind; Movistar were leading the peloton, so Mikel Landa must have a plans.
The break was building up a nice lead, but not enormous
Movistar lifted the speed
Daniel Martin, David Gaudu, Gianni Moscon and Guillaume Martin were amongst the riders who couldn’t follow the pace of Marc Soler. The group of favourites had been reduced to around 20 riders, all the big favourites – including Alaphilippe – were among them. The yellow jersey wearer had Enric Mas with him.
Simon, no its Adam Yates – Still a dangerous man to have in the break
On the steep climbs of the Izoard the chasers accelerated under the emphasis of Yates, Bardet and Quintana, who tried to ride away, but they were not really willing to work together. The pace was high enough to pull Van Avermaet back, but Bernard was still on his own. The Frenchman seemed to take full advantage on the Izoard. Just before the summit, the brave Bernard was rushed by Caruso and Bardet, who fought for the KOM points. Lutsenko, Quintana, Woods and Kämna joined on the descent, so we had 7 leaders. Five minutes later the GC riders crossed the summit.
KOM Tim Wellens was in the break to defend his jersey
On the descent of the Izoard quite a few riders were able to rejoin the leaders, so at the start of the last climb of the day, the Galibier, with 14 leaders. In the Alaphilippe group the pace went up again, but this time the men of Ineos took the lead and the stage was set for the 20-kilometre long Galibier.
Bernal was ready to attack
It took a while for the race to catch fire, as the Galibier’s first kilometres were not too difficult. The front group could now dream of a stage victory, because the difference to the Alaphilippe group was still more than 5 minutes. Quintana was waiting for the steep ramps to attack.
Bernal made his move
The Colombian rider danced again on the pedals, and he was able to lead the first chasers; Bardet and Lutsenko. Quintana was on his way to the victory, but behind there was a long wait for the fireworks, and it was Bernal who would set them off.
Then it was Thomas
The Colombians provide the action
The younger Colombian, Bernal, accelerated with 2 kilometres to go to the top of the Galibier, the other favourites looked at each other. It was a matter of waiting for the final kilometre and an attack from Geraint Thomas. The reigning Tour winner went in pursuit of his younger teammate, this was too much for Alaphilippe. The Frenchman lost his hold on the group.
Alaphilippe was in trouble
The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider knew he had to take risks on the descent of the Galibier. Bernal was alone, followed by the group of Kruijswijk, Pinot, Buchmann and Thomas, who had been caught. Not far behind, Alaphilippe had to ride hard as the Frenchman no longer had the support of Mas.
The daredevil made it back on the descent
Quintana solos to victory – Alaphilippe saves the day
Alaphilippe can descend very well, as he showed on the roads of the Galibier. The leader managed to rejoin the Thomas-Kruijswijk-Pinot group in no time, and quickly took the lead hoping to gain some time on the others and limit any loss to Bernal. For a moment Alaphilippe seemed to be riding away, but Rigoberto Urán managed to close the gap. Quintana was well away and soloing to his stage victory.
Solo win for the Colombian
The Colombian had plenty of time to enjoy his triumph. More than 1 minute after Quintana, Bardet had to settle for second place, while Lutsenko crossed the line in third. It was then a matter of waiting for Bernal, who finished with some riders he had caught at 4:46. Yellow jersey wearer, Alaphilippe, eventually crossed the line with Thomas, Pinot and Kruijswijk at 5:18.
Back in the ‘Top Ten’ overall
Stage winner, Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “The intention this morning was to go to the front to be up there in support to Mikel [Landa]. I managed to squeeze into the breakaway group. I followed the rhythm which was pretty high on the col d’Izoard. Remaining at the front enabled me to ride for the stage win. But it’s been complicated. I told Andrey Amador to close on all the gaps. Towards the finale, people started struggling and I felt I was in good shape. I waited for the right moment to make my move. It took me some time to recover after my crash before the Pyrenees. Now in the Alps, I find climbs that I prefer due to the altitude.”
Two more hard days to go
Tour de France Stage 18 Result:
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar in 5:34:15
2. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:35
3. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana at 2:28
4. Lennard Kämna (Ger) Sunweb at 2:58
5. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 3:00
6. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 4:46
7. Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First
8. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos
9. Serge Pauwels (Bel) CCC
10. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 5:18
11. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
12. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
13. Geraint Thomas (GB) Ineos
14. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
15. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First
16. Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar
17. Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo
18. Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkéa Samsic at 5:43
19. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 6:16
20. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Gobert at 6:47
21. Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 7:24
22. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 8:22
23. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ at 8:53
24. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Dimension Data at 10:12
25. Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 10:23.
Tour de France Overall After Stage 18:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 75:18:49
2. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos at 1:30
3. Geraint Thomas (GB) Ineos at 1:35
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 1:47
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 1:50
6. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 2:14
7. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 3:54
8. Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar at 4:54
9. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First at 5:33
10. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 5:58
11. Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo at 6:30
12. Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkéa Samsic at 7:47
13. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Gobert at 15:11
14. Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 16:21
15. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Dimension Data at 17:00
16. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 18:37
17. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert at 22:43
18. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 23:39
19. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates at 34:23
20. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ at 35:52
21. George Bennett (NZ) Jumbo-Visma at 36:13
22. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana at 36:27
23. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 42:30
24. Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis at 45:45
25. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC at 47:13.