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Date: Thursday, July 20
Distance: 179.5km (111.5mi)
The final chance for the climbers to make up any time before the time trial, Stage 18 is sure to be a tough battle with the favourites throwing everything they have at each other. A summit finish, one of the few in this tour, it is sure to see an exciting finale up the famous Col d’Izoard which boasts an average gradient of 7.3%. Finishing at 2,360 metres above sea level, an off day would see general classification riders lose the race so it will be key to make sure they are recovered adequately from the Wednesday’s tough stage. Coming the day after the biggest climbing day of the Tour, every rider will be on the limit and the GC leader after the stage could very well wear yellow into Paris.
Christian Prudhomme, race director: “It’ll be the final battle between the climbers at the heart of one of the most spectacular and surprising sports theaters there is to offer. A real inspiration for attackers with temperament. From Barcelonnette to the Col de Vars, spirits and legs will be on fire. The last ten kilometres before the summit of the Izoard are at an average gradient of 9%. The “rendez-vous” of the Casse Déserte will add solemnity to the hardness of percents.”
Chris Froome, Team Sky: “It’s the last hard stage of this year’s Tour, a mountaintop finish on the Col d’Izoard. It’s still all to play for.”
Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale): “Tomorrow we have a summit finish at an important place for cycling (Izoard), and it will be important to be at least as strong as today.”