Photo gallery: Sunflowers and a Demare sprint win on stage 18 of the Tour

by Matt de Neef

Arnaud Demare had a tough old time of it in the Pyrenees. He was dead last across the line on stage 16, 41 minutes behind stage winner Julian Alaphilippe. On the uber-short stage 17 he finished just one spot higher, after being dropped inside the first kilometre. Then, there was the Twitter barb from fellow sprinter Andre Greipel, suggesting that Demare had undue assistance in making the time cut on stage 17.

The Frenchman bounced back in the best way possible on stage 18, shrugging off his detractors and finishing at the opposite end of the field to the two days prior. In a stage that was always going to end in a sprint, Demare capitalised on a strong supporting ride from his FDJ teammates and won the bunch kick into Pau.

That’s two Tour de France stage victories in the past two years for Demare who reaped the rewards for battling through the mountains. If he can survive Friday’s mountainous jaunt through the Pyrenees and ride a measured time trial on Saturday, he’ll be one of the favourites for Sunday’s final-stage dash down the iconic Champs-Elysees.