It was the final mountain stage of the 2018 Tour de France, with six (6!) categorised climbs, including the iconic HC Cols des Tourmalet and Aubisque. It was the time to attack the Skytrain if possible – and attacks came thick and fast. In the end, it was JumboBee Primoz Roglic, whose explosive attacks and breathtaking descent to the finish knocked Chris Froome out of third and sets up an exciting final ITT tomorrow. Geraint Thomas never looked in trouble and sprinted for second, extending his lead by a few precious seconds.
Chad sums it up
Rider(s) of the Day
I’ve got a few – and some might be surprising. My first Rider of the Day is the stage winner, Primoz Roglic. It was always going to be a day of JumboBee stinging attacks, not least because this morning, Roglic was only 16sec away from the third step on the podium, if only he could oust Chris Froome. Of all the teams who took up pace-making throughout the stage (giving Sky a free ride), it was perhaps Robert Gesink‘s blistering pace on the Col d’Aubisque that was most confounding to fans.
Ostensibly to keep a Mikel Landa-led break under control, Gesink also shelled out a lot of riders from the yellow jersey group, including a couple Sky domestiques. Then came Steven Kruijswijk, trying to draw out Tom Dumoulin and Chris Froome. With Dumoulin chasing and the pace uncontrollable by the Sky train, Roglic kept the pressure up, continuing to draw out Big Tam until Chris Froome lost contact with the group. Fast-forward to Roglic going over the summit with Dumoulin and Thomas in tow and then flying down the mountain until he broke free, winning the stage, taking third and closing the gap to second-placed Dumoulin to 21sec.
My next Rider of the Day is Tour newbie Egan Bernal. When it was announced earlier this summer that the 21-year-old Sky rider would be on the Tour team, there was a worry that it was too soon. He’s since proved that he was more than up to the challenge. This week particularly, he has earned his salary at the sharp end of the mountain stages, keeping Thomas safe and helping Froome minimise his losses. While Thomas is likely to win this year’s Tour, it will almost certainly be Bernal who is the focus for Sky’s future Grand Tour plans. After today’s stage, Bernal is 15th in the GC. Not bad for a first Tour.Embed from Getty Images
My third Rider of the Day is Geraint Thomas. His performance today – so calm, so assured – was impeccable. The Sky train made sure he was never in danger, but when the rubber met the road on the Aubisque and it was just him with Dumoulin and the two JumboBees, he followed every attack, descending without fear and had enough in the tank to sprint for second to pick up a few more seconds on Dumoulin. Whatever tomorrow’s time trial has to bring (and with Roglic, Dumoulin and Froome all going hell for leather to settle the podium places), Geraint Thomas has ridden a spectacular race.
Today’s stage was not without a bit of controversy. Tom Dumoulin was angry at the end of the stage, believing that Roglic got an unfair advantage from the moto in front of him on the final descent. He hasn’t, however, filed a complaint.
Movistarlets rise and fall
What brought the JumboBees out of their hive was the attack by Mikel Landa and Romain Bardet on the climb of the Tourmalet. And, as is his wont when he’s in form, Landa busted the race open. Although he didn’t win the stage (he finished 7th with the Dumoulin group), he did move up one in the GC to sixth (and picked up the Most Aggressive Rider today). His teammate Nairo Quintana was still suffering from his crash yesterday and lost 7 minutes on the stage. He is now 9th on GC.Embed from Getty Images
But the Movistarlet that really impressed today was Andrey Amador. After working hard all day in the break, he slipped back to help Landa when his teammate made his attack and worked hard to help that select group get a decent gap. But it was what he did afterwards that was so lovely.
Jerseys, both front and back
It was a day of very differing fortunes for the polka dot and green jerseys. Julian Alaphilippe kept up his swashbuckling style by taking maximum points on the Col d’Aspin and the Tourmalet. This has been the Quickstepper’s breakthrough Tour de France and I think we can safely say that he is now possibly the most popular Frenchman around.
Today was perhaps one of the hardest days in the cycling life of Peter Sagan. After his crash yesterday, he was really suffering on the mountains today. He fell behind the peloton quite early (surrounded by his teammates) and we’ve never seen him looking so distressed on a bike. Thankfully, he was embraced by the gruppetto and came in well within the time cut.
The scariest picture ever
1 Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) 5:28:17
2 Geraint Thomas (Sky) +0:19
3 Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) same time
4 Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) s/t
5 Rafal Majka (Bora-hansgrohe) s/t
GC Top 10
1 Geraint Thomas (Sky) 79:49:31
2 Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) +2:05
3 Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) +2:24
4 Chris Froome (Sky) +2:37
5 Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +4:37
6 Mikel Landa (Movistar) +4:40
7 Romain Bardet (Ag2r) +5:15
8 Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) +6:39
9 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +10:26
10 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +11:49
All the jerseysEmbed from Getty Images
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: Mikel Landa (Movistar)
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Header image: ©GETTY/AFP/ Marco Bertorello