Stage 18. The last mountain stage. A summit finish on Hautacam. Most likely, the last chance for Tadej Pogacar to take enough time from his rival Jonas Vingegaarde to make Stage 20’s time trial a possible replay of 2020. There was just about everything in this stage – from super domestiques cracking early to domestiques that cracked yesterday surging back into play. Attacks on a descent that bit the attacker on the ass. The attackee waiting for him so they could fight it out on the final climb together. In the end, Vingegaarde took the stage and pretty much clinched this year’s Tour. He also picked up the KOM jersey on the way.
The elastic snaps
As is my wont, I’m picking out the bits in the race that are going to stay in my memory for years to come – and celebrating four of the men of the race. There’s a lot more that happened so make sure you read everything you can get your hands on and watch every video available. Here are the highlights to get you started.
Today wasn’t a day for UAE teammates. Mikkel Bjerg went out the back of the peloton quite quickly – so no superhuman riding from him. Brandon McNulty tried to replicate yesterday’s ride but couldn’t quite do it. Marc Hirschi still had the invisibility cloak on that has proved so effective throughout this Tour.
Yesterday, it was the Jumbo team that had the problems, not being able to keep up and leaving the yellow jersey isolated with only Pogacar and McNulty for sadistic company. Today, they were on fire. Wout van Aert and Tiesj Benoot went in the break to be able to be on the final climb when Vingegaard might need them. Nathan van Hooydonck and Christophe Laporte stayed with the yellow jersey for much of the stage.
Sepp Kuss showed his brilliance on the Col de Spandelles, helping to pace Vingegaard and rejoining his team leader after an explosive (and disastrous) attack by Pogacar on the descent.
On the breakneck descent, where Pogacar was taking every chance, Vingegaard stayed with him. There was a gasp-moment when he seemed to have unclipped, but he stayed up, although Pogacar rode away. Then, a little further down the road, Pogacar came into the corner hot, Vingegaard took a different line, and Pogacar hit the deck. This was it! Except Vingegaard slowed down and waited for him – a mark of respect but also perhaps that desire to defeat Pogacar not because of a crash, but on Hautacam itself. Pogacar didn’t attack again during the descent but waited for Hautacam.
Once on Hautacam, Vingegaard had Kuss, Benoot, and his monster of a teammate, Wout van Aert, who was the last on the front with 5km to go, ratcheting up the tempo until Pogacar cracked, allowing Vingegaard to make his move and put the Tour de France top step out of reach of his main rival.
By the end, Vingegaard took the stage and put in over a minute on second placed Pogacar. Van Aert came in third (!).
One thing was for sure today – the fans were going to be divided. Pogacar had his fans; Vingegaard had his. At the end of the stage, both picked up yet more fans.
In Pogacar corner
All respect given to this mighty competitor. I was dreading him just waltzing through the three weeks for his third consecutive Tour win, but as is often the case, his behaviour and attitude while facing defeat has won me over. And he just kept riding.
— @UAE-TeamEmirates (@TeamEmiratesUAE) July 21, 2022
Pogacar feeling the extra 8kg he has on Jonas #tdf2022
— Chris Carlson (@Kiss_my_Panache) July 21, 2022
[On attacking today] Pogacar: "There couldn't be a better way to lose the Tour de France".
Incredible mentality. #TDF2022
— Dan Deakins 🇫🇷🚲 (@DanDeakins) July 21, 2022
Sure Pogacar is a good bike rider but I think his biggest strength is still having energy post battle to wade through all his notifications for the purpose of trolling other riders. 😂 https://t.co/aWcalyTq1O
— Belinda (@reallyspoketome) July 20, 2022
If you don't feel a pang of sadness for Pog, you do not have a heart.
The most amazing but also the most brutal sport.
A shield of invincibility shattered 🥺
Let's go again next year, Pogi 💛#TDF2022
— Issie 💙 (@IssieAtch) July 21, 2022
In Vingegaard corner
Vingegaard hasn’t put a foot wrong in this race. A worthy winner, a champion of pure class. This rivalry will be astonishing to watch in the next few years. And look! Issie is in both Pogacar and Vingegaard corners!
Jonas Vingegaard, Wout van Aert, Jumbo Visma take a flipping bow.
That is how you win a Tour de France.
— Issie 💙 (@IssieAtch) July 21, 2022
I can’t my head around this Tour de France. We all – if we’re honest – thought Tadej Pogačar was unbeatable if he stayed upright. But in hindsight Jonas Vingegaard has wiped the floor with him in France. Now we’re saying, how can Pog beat Vingegaard?
— George Poole (@GeorgePuddle) July 21, 2022
— daniel mcmahon (@cyclingreporter) July 21, 2022
Tadej Pogačar has only gained 30 seconds on Vingegaard all race. Vingegaard is now putting another 30 seconds into the man that seemed unbeatable even up to stage 11 #tdf2022
— adam becket at le tour (@adambecket) July 21, 2022
Best Tour de France of modern era? At least since Armstrong vs Ullrich in 2003. Maybe since LeMond vs Fignon in 1989. Only 345 days until Vingegaard vs Pogacar rematch. Cannot wait. #TDF2022 pic.twitter.com/NOIh15Y6W6
— Neal Rogers 🇺🇦 (@nealrogers) July 21, 2022
Sepp and Wout
Let us sing a song of super domestiques – well, one super domestique and one super everything.
— VeloVoices (@VeloVoices) July 21, 2022
Kuss is your winner. https://t.co/Ce9P81dK9s
— Velo Louisville (@velolouisville) July 21, 2022
— Pe-tour de France ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿🚴♂️ (@PBXscribes) July 14, 2022
— Debby 🖤💛 (@Debby_Drckx) July 21, 2022
— Katy M – Tour mode 🇫🇷💛 (@writebikerepeat) July 21, 2022
— VeloVoices (@VeloVoices) July 21, 2022
— Rachel (@super_ruck) July 21, 2022
— Zimbololo (@LoisHorwitz) July 21, 2022
At tue start of every day, Wout goes up the road and people lose it because “he should be supporting JV.”
At the end of every day, Wout picks up JV and drives him to the finish.
Lemme know when it clicks.
— Service Course, LLC (@SC_Cycling) July 21, 2022
Spare a thought for the lovely Simon Geschke, who had his dreams of taking the KOM jersey all the way to Paris smashed to smithereens on Hautacam.
I hope so much that Simon Geschke will at least be awarded as the most combative rider of the Tour.
His self-sacrificing fight deserves to be honoured on the podium in Paris.
Such a likeable guy who has had bad luck so many times in his career 💔😭#TDF2022 #ARDTour https://t.co/2siSJgg72O
— Niklas (@nikih24) July 21, 2022
The final word
Golly Gosh, not sure I can take much more tonight – muppets, vaches (with guns), a speccy crash, decent field art, blueberries being caressed, the Pope, Moses and Wout up front! Bring me my smelling salts 😮😮#couchpeloton
— SkiMum ⛷ (@SkimumKate) July 21, 2022
Stage 18 results
1 Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 3:59:50
2 Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +1:04
3 Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) +2:10
4 Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) +2:54
5 David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) +2:58
GC Top 10
1 Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 71:53:34
2 Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +3:26
3 Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) +8:00
4 David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) +11:05
5 Nairo Quintana (Team Arkea-Samsic) +13:35
6 Louis Meintjes (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +13:43
7 Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-hansgrohe) +14:10
8 Romain Bardet (Team DSM) +16:11
9 Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan Team) +20:09
10 Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) +20:17
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey : Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma)
Points jersey : Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)
King of the Mountains jersey : Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma)
Young Rider Jersey : Tadej Pogacar (UAE)
Team competition : INEOS Grenadiers
For the full stage review, go to cyclingnews
Go here for the official Tour de France website