Tour de France 2018 Stage 18: Demare delivers in Pau

Today’s soporific sprint stage followed the script and once the five-man break had been hauled in from its short leash, the sprinters’ teams took over. Here was a golden opportunity for someone to redeem their Tour. As the peloton swept through the final corner, Cofidis led it out for Christophe Laporte but hot on his wheels was Arnaud Demare. The latter kicked with 350m to go and came around Laporte to sail across the line, holding off the Cofidis rider who finished runner-up and third-placed Alexander Kristoff. Unsurprisingly, there was no change on GC.

Rider(s) of the Day

Not a lot of candidates for today’s honours, however I’m giving it to Groupama-FDJ, whose riders did a sterling job delivering Demare to today’s victory.

The team is one of the few still to be intact. So please step forward David Gaudu, Jacopo Guarnieri, Olivier Le Gac, Tobias Ludvigsson, Rudy Molard, Ramon Sinkeldam and Arthur Vichot. Aside from praise for their performance from Demare, manager Marc Madiot was also delighted:

I felt that Arnaud was really motivated, he did some really big work, Guarnieri did some good work. The team really dug in today and did some great work for Demare to help him win, it’s proper teamwork, really proper teamwork. (Eurosport)

The local press will be delighted with another French stage win. This is Demare’s second Tour laurels after last year’s victory in Vittel. His team came to the race hunting for stage wins but it’s been slim pickings. Though Molard, who was floored by a bidon on day one and spent the next week or so looking pretty mummified, has tried to get into breaks and has generally been quite aggressive, as has Vichot. Plus, the team will have been impressed with the overall performance of youngster Gaudu riding his maiden Tour.

Demare confirmed that his performance today was spurred on by a Twitter spat with Lotto-Soudal’s Andre Greipel who seemed to infer that Demare had held onto a team car yesterday in order to survive the stage. Ever the gentleman, when he realised he’d misinterpreted the facts, Greipel graciously apologised.

Interestingly:-

That man Sagan

Much to the relief of everyone, after yesterday’s crash, Peter was patched up and ready to start today’s stage; determined to get to Paris and don that record-equalling sixth green jersey. However, most of us thought he’d be hanging round the back of the peloton today. But no, he contested the intermediate and bunch sprints though it wasn’t to be. Maybe he’ll feel better on the iconic Champs-Elysees where he’s yet to win a stage?

Finally

I’m having a hard time getting my head around this. Congratulations are surely in order for French housewives’ favouite Sylvain Chavanel.

Stage results

1 Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 3:46:50

2 Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) same time

3 Alexander Kristoff (UAE Emirates) s/t

4 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) s/t

5 Sonny Cobrelli (Bahrain-Merida) s/t

GC Top 10

1 Geraint Thomas (Sky) 74:21:01

2 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +1:59

3 Chris Froome (Sky) +2:31

4 Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) +2:47

5 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +3:30

6 Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +4:19

7 Mikel Landa (Movistar) +4:34

8 Romain Bardet (Ag2r) +5:13

9 Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) +6:33

10 Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) +9:31

All the jerseys

Leader’s jersey: Geraint Thomas (Sky)

Points jersey: Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe)

KOM jersey: Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors)

Best young rider: Pierre Latour (Ag2r)

Most combative: Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-Scott)

Listen to Stage 18’s  VeloVoices Tour in 5 podcast now on any podcast browser, even Spotify! and remember, you can get involved too! 

Official Tour de France website for full results

Header image: ©GETTY/Velo/Chris Graythen

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