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.
Taking his opportunities as they arose, Vincenzo Nibali conquered the Hautacam and took his fourth victory – the last man to win the Tour with four (non-time trial) stage wins was Eddy Merckx. Meanwhile, Alejandro Valverde was distanced by the French, falling from second to fourth place, setting up a tantalising time trial showdown on Saturday.