In a Tour de France that has continually surprised us, today could be considered the queen stage. It started with the dramatic abandonment of the race by French GC hopeful, Thibaut Pinot, in tearjerking circumstances. Then, just as the GC favourites crested the penultimate climb of the stage, the Col de l’Iseran, rumours of neutralisation started spreading … until it was confirmed that the stage would be stopped immediately, as a freak hailstorm had made the descent too dangerous (not least because of the landslides!). After much discussion by the race jury, it was decided that the time at the top of the d’Iseran would be the times for GC but no winner would be awarded the stage. Egan Bernal (INEOS) was awarded the yellow jersey, while Julian Alaphilippe and Geraint Thomas are in second and third respectively.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won Stage 18 of the 2019 Tour de France, attacking from the day’s break but the real story happened behind him. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) cracked near the summit of the final climb but regrouped and caught back up to his GC rivals on the descent. It could end up being a race-defining moment.
Oh my goodness, there’s never a dull day on this edition of the Tour de France! First, the break of the day made it to the line. Matteo Trentin produced a fabulous bare-chested, tongue-lolling solo raid to give Mitchelton-Scott their fourth victory. The Italian rouleur timed his attack from a winnowed super-break to perfection, keeping his gap ahead of Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) all the way into Gap. Asgreen’s teammate, Julian Alaphilippe, stays in yellow for another stage. Back in the peloton, things were relaxed until tempers frayed between Team Ineos’ Luke Rowe and Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) resulting in both their expulsions from the race. With the Alps looming who knows how crucial this could be?