The scenes of stage 17 on the slopes of the Col du Portet were something to behold. Tadej Pogacar lit up the Tour de France with the first attack, despite having a substantial lead over all of his rivals. Richard Carapaz bluffed being on the limit the whole way up before attacking inside the final kilometre and distancing Jonas Vingegaard. Then Vingegaard bridged back to the two out front inside the final 200m, before Pogacar showed his dominance by taking the victory in style.
Vingegaard managed to extend his lead over Carapaz to four seconds on Wednesday and he will be hoping to do the same again in the final mountain stage of this year’s race. The Dane took well over a minute out of Carapaz in the first individual time trial, so the Team Ineos Grenadiers man needs an advantage heading into the second, decisive race against the clock. Can he manage it on stage 18?
The route includes the famous Col du Tourmalet and the punishing 13km ascent up to Luz Ardiden. If any of the GC riders have anything left, now is the time to put all their cards on the table.
It is also another day in which Mark Cavendish will have to remain vigilant of the time cut as he eyes tomorrow’s flat stage.
Route profile and map
Stage 18 route profile
Stage 18 map
With two Cavendish-friendly stages and a time trial left after today, this is final realistic chance for a breakaway to make it before we reach Paris. For that reason, expect a very fast start as almost all the teams without general classification ambitions attempt to make the breakaway. The fact that it will be such a hotly-contested stage means it will likely be a very strong rider that makes it to the finish. If one of the Ineos boys are let off the leash from domestique duties then Geraint Thomas or Tao Geoghegen Hart could challenge for the win. But they will almost certainly be riding for Carapaz, so this could be a day for someone like Dan Martin or Michael Woods.
Stage 18 is set to start at around 12.30pm BST and is expected to finish at around 4.30pm.
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