It’s not often you see two riders embracing as they go over the finish line together, but that was the victory salute of sorts from Richard Carapaz and Michal Kwiatkowski as the Polish rider took his first grand tour stage win ever. The GC battle was a bit scrappy-doo with guys putting in attacks, guys getting unceremoniously dropped off the back, but in the midst Primoz Roglic stayed supremely cool and in control and still in yellow tonight.
While I think the title of the highlights film overstates what the Ineos duo accomplished today, it was an impressive ride by the two of them, with Richard Carapaz taking the polka-dot jersey from Tadej Pogacar‘s back and Michal Kwiatkowski taking a worthy reward for all the selfless riding he has done for the team since joining in 2016.
Richie rides proud
Richie Porte, as we all know, is having the Tour of his life at the moment. He sits in 4th place (about 90sec off the podium) and he’s been able to stick to the yellow jersey group (more or less) all week. Today, they went over a stretch of gravel roads – ah, Strade Bianche in the midst of the Tour de France – and he did what no one wanted to do. He got a puncture. As he is on disc brakes, he couldn’t just take a wheel from the neutral service so had to carry on riding on the flat until the team car got close enough to do the change.
Luckily, Tom Dumoulin and Wout Van Aert had been dropped from the yellow jersey group and so they started riding hard to catch back up to their leader. Richie could shelter behind them, as they are both about three times his size, and then went to the front to make the final catch. Therefore, he lost a mere second in the GC, due to the puncture – but what could he have done if he hadn’t punctured …
Roglic reigns supreme
As usual, Jumbo Visma ruled the day. Roglic’s teammates are able to stay with him for most of the stage, but he’s also so cool, calm and collected, when they aren’t with him, he just attacks. He’s in full control of his race.
WVA came in third, Roglic fourth, Pogacar fifth …
Apparently, Merijn Zeeman, DS for Jumbo-Visma, intimidated and insulted a UCI official during a bike check after Stage 17. A whopping fine and a dishonourable discharge from the Tour de France. Can’t say that’s the best look for the team. I’m sure more will be revealed in due course.
And the rest of the race …
Sam Bennett took the intermediate sprint and now he’s sitting in the catbird seat for a green jersey presentation in Paris.
Mikel Landa might have had some quixotic rides in the past two days, but both he and Enric Mas moved up two spots with both Adam Yates and Rigoberto Uran losing nearly 3min each today.
To terrify you
Stage 18 Top 5
1 Michal Kwiatkowski (INEOS) 4:47:33
2 Richard Carapaz (INEOS) same time
3 Wout Van Aert (Jumbo Visma) +1:51
4 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) +1:53
5 Tadej Pogacar (UAE) same time
GC Top 10
1 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 79:45:30
2 Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +0:57
3 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) +1:27
4 Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) +3:06
5 Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) +3:28
6 Enric Mas (Movistar) +04:19
7 Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +5:55
8 Rigoberto Uran (EF Pro Cycling) +6:05
9 Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) +7:24
10 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +12:12
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)
Points jersey Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
King of the Mountains Richard Carapaz (INEOS)
Best Young Rider Tadej Pogacar (UAE)
Most Combative of the Stage: Marc Hirschi (Sunweb)
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Official race website: Le Tour
Header image: ©GETTY/Velo/ Pool