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The final mountain stage of the 2018 Tour was always going to be a thriller. Chris Froome came into the stage looking vulnerable in third overall, Primoz Roglic was breathing down his neck just 16 seconds back, and several riders in the top 10 had the chance to move up if they played their cards right.
Over some of the Tour’s best known Pyrenean climbs — including the Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aubisque — several of the GC contenders came out to play early, giving it one last roll of the dice before tomorrow’s individual time trial. Mikel Landa, Romain Bardet and Ilnur Zakarin got up the road with more than 60km still to race, Steven Kruijswijk tried to get away from his GC rivals like he did on the stage to Alpe d’Huez, and Tom Dumoulin tried to put pressure on the maillot jaune. None of those moves amounted to a whole lot.
It wasn’t until Primoz Roglic slipped off the front on the final descent that the day was won. The Slovenian dove through the clouds on the way to Laruns, leaving everyone behind and riding to his second Tour stage win in as many years. More importantly, the win moves Roglic into third overall ahead of Saturday’s stage 20 individual time trial.
With a lead of more than two minutes, Geraint Thomas looks set to win the 2018 Tour de France. But the battle for the overall podium is far less certain — Dumoulin (second), Roglic (third) and Froome (fourth) are all within 32 seconds of one another. Not coincidentally, those three finished in that order in last year’s World Championships ITT. We’re set for an intriguing battle on the Tour’s final GC day.