Stage 19. Would this be a day for the break or the sprinters? Would Mark Cavendish get that stage winning record all to himself?
Spoiler alert!! It wasn’t a sprint and Cav will have to wait for Paris. Instead, Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious) soloed his way to a second victory on this year’s Tour de France. The Slovenian made the first break of the day, survived the fierce feistiness of a 20 rider super-break, before leaving everyone behind with 25km to go. Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Team DSM’s Casper Pedersen completed the stage podium. The rest of the field doodled their way to the finish line some 20 minutes later – just making the time cut! Oh and YES! there will be mentions of Mohoric’s victory salute – read on mes amis
Stage 18 of this year’s Tour de France was a crash-banging, head-butting, balls-to-the-wall GC battle from kilometre 0 to the summit finish on Luz-Ardiden. All the GC teams threw caution to the wind, with attack after attack all through the 130km, on the slopes of the Tourmalet and the climb to the finishing summit. Okay, that didn’t actually happen – that was my wishful thinking for the stage. In fact, today’s stage was not that different than yesterday’s stage including the stage podium.
Anyone who had any doubt in the strength of Tadej Pogacar only had to watch today’s Stage 17 to realise that, bar a complete collapse, the peloton’s wunderkind is going to ride into Paris on Sunday to take his second Tour de France in a row. In a stunning show of power – both by his UAE team and then by Pogacar on the final 10km of the stage – the stage ended with the widely predicted win for the reigning champion but the manner of the win was something quite spectacular. As for second and third podium positions, they seem relatively safe from the bunch for Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) respectively, with the closest rival, EF’s Rigoberto Uran, more than a minute and a half down from them in GC. But with only 4 seconds between the two, we can expect some Jumbo-Ineos fireworks on the last mountain stage tomorrow.