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TOUR’22 Stage 18: Jonas Vingegaard Dominates On the Road to Hautacam!

Tour Stage 18 Report: The final stage in the mountains of the 2022 Tour de France didn’t disappoint as it was full of drama. The top two were together on the final climb of the Hautacam after both had tricky moments on the previous descent. But it was the yellow jersey of Jonas Vingegaard that demolished the opposition for the stage win and more time in the overall bank before Saturday’s time trial.

The final K of stage 18

It looks like Jonas Vingegaard can’t lose the overall victory in the 2022 Tour de France. The Danish rider dealt a sledgehammer blow to his biggest and only competitor Tadej Pogačar on the last Pyrenees stage to Hautacam, after an impressive display of power by Jumbo-Visma on the final climb. Sepp Kuss and a very strong Wout van Aert in particular played a crucial role in the final.

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The Tour start village in Lourdes

Tour boss, Christian Prudhomme: “The last mountain test presents all kinds of possibilities. Unexpected collapses, ambushes and twists of all kinds could be on the cards thanks to the linking of the Aubisque and Spandelles passes, the latter appearing on the route for the first time, followed by the final ascent to Hautacam. There’s simply no respite. If the leading positions haven’t been secured by this point, the Tour’s biggest battle could be played out on this final Pyrenean stage.”

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Stage 18 profile

The eighteenth stage of the Tour de France was going to be where the race would be won or lost. The Col d’Aubisque (16.4km at 7.1%), Col de Spandelles (10.3km at 8.3%) and the final climb to the ski resort of Hautacam (13.6km at 7.8%) are all tough climbs. A nightmare for most riders, but for Tadej Pogačar it was a last chance to turn the Tour upside down in the mountains and crack the unshakable jersey wearer Jonas Vingegaard and his Jumbo-Visma team.

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Albert II, Prince of Monaco meets Wout Van Aert at the start

Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious), Imanol Erviti (Movistar) and Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) couldn’t start due to covid infections. The first attack of the day came from Wout van Aert. The all-rounder of the Jumbo-Visma team, who can no longer be beaten in the battle for the green jersey, was sent ahead for tactical reasons. Van Aert pushed on solo for a while.

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The jerseys at the start

In the peloton the pace was not slow. Several riders tried to jump to the front, while at the back some riders were in trouble. It was too fast for Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Mikkel Bjerg, one of three of Pogačar’s men. At the front; Van Aert was caught by Stan Dewulf. The AG2R Citroën rider was joined by Christophe Laporte, Andreas Leknessund, Stefan Bissegger, Florian Vermeersch and Michael Matthews.

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Tadej Pogačar might need a miracle to win this Tour de France

These six riders joined forces and had half a minute on the peloton, where we saw the men of Cofidis leading the way. The French team had missed the move and so it was up to Anthony Perez and Ion Izagirre to pull it back for Simon Geschke. This turned out to be disastrous for the escape chances of the leading group and everything came back together. A new group of sixteen riders managed to escape, but this attempt by Matteo Jorgenson, Tiesj Benoot, Giulio Ciccone and Dylan Groenewegen, among others, did not last long.

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Van Aert attacked as soon as the flag dropped

The peloton remained restless because Geschke was again not there. After a strong acceleration, Van Aert was responsible for yet another escape. Then Dylan Teuns decided to continue on a short climb and turned out to be the instigator of a new break. Teuns and 31 other riders jumped away from the peloton. The group included: Van Aert, Benoot, Rigoberto Urán, Ciccone, Michael Woods, Dylan van Baarle and Valentin Madouas.

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‘What are doing Wout?’

The lead of the 32-rider leading group was 30 seconds with 85 kilometres to go. The escapees didn’t get much more, as Cofidis and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl led the pack. The Belgian team had no one in the break, while Cofidis did everything it could to put KOM Geschke in a good position at the foot of the Col d’Aubisque. The German used the first kilometres of the Aubisque as a possible springboard to the leading group, where Van Aert set the pace.

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Tony Gallopin leading the big break of the day

Jumbo-Visma dropped the speed in the yellow jersey group as Nathan Van Hooydonck set the pace for the yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard. Fabio Jakobsen had survived the crazy opening section of the stage. Several riders were eager to jump to the leading group. Louis Meintjes, 7th overall at 9:24, went into battle in the hope of moving up.

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Vingegaard and Pogačar were watching each other

After Meintjes’ attack, the favourites group rode steady. The leading group – including Van Aert, Ciccone, Enric Mas, Teuns, Thibaut Pinot, Woods and Alexey Lutsenko – continued towards the top of the Aubisque. The difference grew towards 3 minutes. Ciccone was the first to the top of the Col d’Aubisque, racking up 20 mountain points. The Italian was getting close to Geschke, who had been dropped.

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Louis Meintjes tried to cross to the front group

The front riders then started the long and at times technical descent of the Aubisque, briefly interrupted by the 2 kilometre Col du Soulor. The riders all came down in one piece and started, with 44 kilometres to go, the first steep ramps of the Col de Spandelles. Trek-Segafredo took matters into his own hands: Mollema decided to sacrifice his chances for his teammate Ciccone and maintained a tough pace. This ensured a selection in the front group.

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Van Aert was the power of what was left of the break

That was also the case in the group of favourites, where Brandon McNulty started the demolition work for Pogačar. Romain Bardet was dropped first and Adam Yates also went overboard. Not much later, the group exploded completely after Pogačar’s first acceleration. Geraint Thomas, Nairo Quintana, Aleksandr Vlasov and David Gaudu had to let go, but Vingegaard again followed. Sepp Kuss tried to return from behind, so that Jumbo-Visma again had men on hand.

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The attacks had to come from Pogačar

Pogačar rested for his next attack. It came about 4 kilometres from the top, but Vingegaard and Kuss were again on his wheel. A third shot from the Slovenian also did nothing. This gave Thomas the opportunity to make another comeback and the British rider felt it was time to attack for the first time in this Tour. However, the Jumbo-Visma men did not panic as Thomas was already too far down on the overall.

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The Dane could hold on

Again it was all hands on deck with a new attempt by Pogačar. The two-time Tour winner flew past Thomas, and was left alone with Vingegaard. Pogačar also managed to narrow the gap to the three remaining leaders: Pinot, Martínez and the amazingly good climber Van Aert, at 2 minutes. Van Aert was first at the top of the Col de Spandelles with 32 kilometres to go and, with Pinot and Martínez in his wheel, started the descent towards the final climb to Hautacam.

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Last chance for Pinot

Pogačar and Vingegaard crossed the top of the Col de Spandelles at 1:30, but the former had no intention of slowing on the descent. The UAE Team Emirates rider took risks and managed to push Vingegaard to the limit. The Dane nearly fell, but managed to correct just in time. Pogačar saw it happen and pushed again, but then crashed himself on a corner. It seemed open for Vingegaard to decide the Tour, but the yellow jersey waited for Pogačar out of sportsmanship.

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Kuss was super strong again

The two then rode together on their way to the foot of the final climb. Due to the issues on the descent, the lead of the three escapees had grown again to 3 minutes. With this lead, Van Aert, Pinot and Martínez started the final climb to the 1,520 meter high Hautacam (13.6km at 7.8%). Pinot tried a few attacks, but failed to shake off Van Aert and Martínez. The group with the yellow jersey was getting closer, with 10 kilometres to climb, the difference was only 1:15.

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Van Aert put in the last blow to Pogačar

Thanks to Kuss’s very fast pace, who seemed to mount an attack for Vingegaard. At the front Van Aert decided go alone, which saw off the tired Pinot. Martínez also had to pull out all the stops to follow, but the Colombian managed to ride back to Van Aert’s wheel. Kuss was now busy with his last efforts: the American accelerated again and only first and second on the overall could follow. For Thomas, not for the first time, it went too fast.

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The Tour looks to be in the Vingegaard bag

Kuss, Pogačar and Vingegaard were half a minute behind the two remaining leaders, where Van Aert managed to maintain a high pace. This turned out not to be enough for the stage victory, because at 5 kilometres from the top, the Belgian and Martínez were joined by the three chasers. This turned out to be the end of the day’s work for Kuss and so it was up to Van Aert to take one last turn for his Danish teammate. The Belgian pushed so hard that Pogačar was dropped. Vingegaard saw it happen and waited patiently for his moment.

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Vingegaard went solo for the win and the extra time

That moment came with just over 4 kilometres to climb. Van Aert put everything he had left into his last turn on the front and then it was up to Vingegaard to complete the job. The yellow jersey gained wings in the final kilometres to the top and rode further and further away from Pogačar, who had to resign himself to the defeat. At the finish, the difference between the two had increased to 1 minute, so that Vingegaard’s lead in the general classification has now increased to almost three and a half minutes.

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Stage win for the yellow jersey

Stage winner, KOM and overall leader, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma): “It’s incredible. I told my girlfriend and daughter this morning that I wanted to win the stage for them. I’m happy and proud that I won for them. When Tadej [Pogacar] crashed, he kinda missed a corner and went into some gravel. The bike disappeared under the human and I waited for him. I have to thank all my team-mates, Wout, Sepp, Tiesj, Nathan, Christophe, everyone was incredible again today. I need to stay focus and keep taking it day by day. I don’t want to talk about winning the Tour yet. Let’s talk about it in two days.”

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And now KOM too!

# All the Tour news in EUROTRASH and the ‘Final Round Up’ on Monday. #

Tour de France Stage 18 Result:
1. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma in 3:59:50
2. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 1:04
3. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma at 2:10
4. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 2:54
5. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 2:58
6. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan at 3:09
7. Daniel Felipe Martínez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers
8. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma at 3:27
9. Aleksandr Vlasov (-) BORA-hansgrohe at 4:04
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 4:09.

Tour de France Overall After Stage 18:
1. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma in 71:53:34
2. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 3:26
3. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 8:00
4. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 11:05
5. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkéa Samsic at 13:25
6. Louis Meintjes (SA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 13:43
7. Aleksandr Vlasov (-) BORA-hansgrohe at 14:10
8. Romain Bardet (Fra) DSM at 16:11
9. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan at 20:09
10. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 20:17.

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