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Michal Kwiatkowski won stage 18 of the Tour de France in a one-two finish for the Ineos Grenadiers, with Richard Carapaz crossing the line alongside his teammate to take second after the pair spent a long day together off the front.
Just under two minutes later, Wout van Aert took third in front of a select group that included his Jumbo-Visma temmate Primoz Roglic and a handful of other riders. Roglic maintained his race lead and Tadej Pogacar and Miguel Ángel López came across the line just behind to hold onto their spots in the top three, while Richie Porte solidified his hold on fourth and Mikel Landa and Enric Mas both moved up the GC standings as Adam Yates and Rigoberto Urán lost time on the day. Meanwhile, the mountains classification saw Carapaz surge up the standings and into the lead after a busy day out front.
“That was some day. I can’t describe how grateful I am to the whole team and to Richard,” Kwiatkowski said. “It was an incredible day for us. I will never forget that. I’ve had some nice moments in cycling but that was a new experience. I had goosebumps for the last, I don’t know how many kilometers because I knew that the gap was so big that we were going to make it. Both of us really enjoyed the last kilometers and last meters.”
The 175-kilometer stage from Méribel to La Roche-sur-Foron saw a strong break form early. Plenty of names, including Sam Bennett and Peter Sagan, were in the initial move, with Bennett padding his green jersey lead by winning the early sprint point over Matteo Trentin with Sagan in third. As the escapees battled on the succession of climbs that followed, however, the lead group was rapidly reduced to only a handful of riders, with a quintet of Kwiatkowski, Carapaz, Marc Hirschi, Pello Bilbao, and Nicolas Edet leading the race midway through the stage.
Hirschi would crash out of the break on the descent off the Col des Saisies, and despite a spirited chase he would not catch back on. Edet lost touch on the subsequent Col des Aravis, and then Carapaz and Kwiatkowski dropped Bilbao on the steep slopes of the Montée du Plateau des Glières and continued on together toward the finish.
Farther down the climb, Bahrain-McLaren upped the pace and riders began dropping off the back on the GC group. Mikel Landa then launched clear, and his acceleration and the ensuing response in what was left of the yellow jersey group shelled several riders out the back, including Urán and Yates.
For the next few minutes, Landa worked his way past riders from the early break until he connected with Bahrain-McLaren teammate Damiano Caruso, who had long before been dropped from the early break. Near the top of the climb, however, a much-reduced yellow jersey group reeled Landa back in.
On the gravel sector that followed the climb, Richie Porte punctured. He dropped 30 seconds behind the yellow jersey before getting a new wheel and settling into chase mode. Although his gap hovered at around half a minute for a while as the pace stayed high in the yellow jersey group, with Roglic himself applying pressure at points, Porte eventually began to close back in. Joining forces with a few other riders, he ultimately rejoined the yellow jersey group before the finish.
Kwiatkowski and Carapaz held on out front with enough time to savor their accomplishment in the last few hundred meters, while also making sure to avoid a fan who had run onto the course. The Ineos duo reached the finish with Kwiatkowski leading over the line. Van Aert hit the line for third 1:51 back with Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar two seconds behind and Porte leading the rest of a select group across the finish a further one second back.
Top 10, stage 18
1 KWIATKOWSKI Michal (INEOS Grenadiers) 4:47:33
2 CARAPAZ Richard (INEOS Grenadiers)
3 VAN AERT Wout (Team Jumbo-Visma) 1:51
4 ROGLIC Primoz (Team Jumbo-Visma) 1:53
5 POGACAR Tadej (UAE-Team Emirates)
6 PORTE Richie (Trek – Segafredo) 1:54
7 MAS Enric (Movistar Team)
8 LANDA Mikel (Bahrain – McLaren)
9 CARUSO Damiano (Bahrain – McLaren)
10 DUMOULIN Tom (Team Jumbo-Visma)
Top 10, GC
1 ROGLIC Primoz (Team Jumbo-Visma) 79:45:30
2 POGACAR Tadej (UAE-Team Emirates) 0:57
3 LÓPEZ Miguel Ángel (Astana Pro Team) 1:27
4 PORTE Richie (Trek – Segafredo) 3:06
5 LANDA Mikel (Bahrain – McLaren) 3:28
6 MAS Enric (Movistar Team) 4:19
7 YATES Adam (Mitchelton-Scott) 5:55
8 URÁN Rigoberto (EF Pro Cycling) 6:05
9 DUMOULIN Tom (Team Jumbo-Visma) 7:24
10 VALVERDE Alejandro (Movistar Team) 12:12
In other news
| Jumbo-Visma DS Zeeman kicked off of Tour
Thursday may have seen Primoz Roglic take another step towards securing the overall victory at the Tour de France, but it wasn’t all good news on the day for Jumbo-Visma. As the race jury report announced after the stage, Jumbo-Visma sports director Merijn Zeeman has been kicked out of the Tour de France.
The report cited Zeeman for “intimidation, insults, improper behavior by a member of a team towards a UCI official during the bicycle check carried out at the end of stage 17.”
In addition to being expelled from the race, Zeeman was also fined 2,000 Swiss francs. In the aftermath of Thursday’s stage, it was not immediately clear exactly what occurred after the previous stage that led to Zeeman’s expulsion.
| Kopecky wins stage 7 of the Giro Rosa, van Vleuten crashes
Lotte Kopecky powered to a stage victory on Thursday’s stage 7 of the Giro Rosa, while race leader Annemiek van Vleuten will not start stage 8 after breaking her wrist in a crash.
The 112.6-kilometer stage from Nola to Maddaloni concluded with a pair of trips up the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo, and on the second of those ascents, the pack caught the last survivor of a prior move, Mariia Novolodskaia. From there, a select group formed to battle for the stage in the finale.
Inside the last kilometer, a crash took out multiple riders, including race leader Annemiek van Vleuten, her Mitchelton-Scott teammate Amanda Spratt, and Marianne Vos. Kopecky stayed upright to take a convincing win in the sprint over Lizzie Deignan, with Kasia Niewiadoma in third.
Van Vleuten, Spratt, and Vos would make it to the finish and van Vleuten remained in the race lead in the standings immediately after the stage, but neither she nor Spratt will start Friday’s stage 8 (more on that in a moment). With van Vleuten leaving the Giro Rosa, Kasia Niewiadoma takes over the provisional lead.
Top 10, stage 7
1 KOPECKY Lotte (Lotto Soudal Ladies) 2:52:12
2 DEIGNAN Elizabeth (Trek-Segafredo Women) 0:02
3 NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna (Canyon SRAM Racing) 0:03
4 CAVALLI Marta (Valcar – Travel & Service)
5 VAN DER BREGGEN Anna (Boels – Dolmans Cycling Team)
6 PALADIN Soraya (CCC – Liv)
7 SANTESTEBAN Ane (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling)
8 LIPPERT Liane (Team Sunweb)
9 MOOLMAN Ashleigh (CCC – Liv)
10 MACKAIJ Floortje (Team Sunweb)
Top 10, GC
1 VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek (Mitchelton-Scott) 20:29:43
2 NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna (Canyon SRAM Racing) 1:48
3 VAN DER BREGGEN Anna (Boels – Dolmans Cycling Team) 2:03
4 LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) 3:03
5 HARVEY Mikayla (Équipe Paule Ka) 4:21
6 LONGO BORGHINI Elisa (Trek-Segafredo Women) 4:32
7 MOOLMAN Ashleigh (CCC – Liv) 4:34
8 GARCÍA Mavi (Alé BTC Ljubljana) 4:38
9 VOS Marianne (CCC – Liv) 5:02
10 BANKS Elizabeth (Équipe Paule Ka) 5:56
| Van Vleuten out of Giro Rosa, will miss Worlds with a broken wrist
Neither Annemiek van Vleuten nor Amanda Spratt will continue in the Giro Rosa after crashing heavily on stage 7. Medical checks confirmed that van Vleuten suffered a broken wrist in the crash, while Spratt was diagnosed with a concussion.
Van Vleuten was leading the race by nearly two minutes when she went down.
Amid an extremely successful season, van Vleuten had been among the very top favorites for the upcoming UCI Road World Championships, but the reigning world champ confirmed in a press release from her Mitchelton-Scott team that she will not be able to defend her rainbow jersey in Imola, Italy.
| Degenkolb wins stage 3 in Luxembourg
John Degenkolb picked up his first victory of the year on the third stage of the Tour de Luxembourg.
The 159.8-kilometer stage from Rosport to Schifflange came down to a sprint, where Degenkolb, who finished outside the time limit on the first stage of the Tour de France nearly three weeks ago, powered to victory. Eduard-Michael Grosu took runner-up honors on the day with Pieter Vanspeybrouck in third.
Degenkolb’s win came with Lotto-Soudal riding with two fewer riders on Thursday after the team pulled Tomasz Marczynski and Harm Vanhoucke out of the race. According to the team, Marczynski was suffering “viral symptoms.” A PCR test for COVID-19 was negative, but the team pulled Marczynski, his roommate Vanhoucke, and another staffer who had been in close contact with Marczynski as a precautionary measure.
| Jumbo-Visma confirms Kruijswijk will lead the charge at the Giro
Jumbo-Visma has confirmed its lineup for the Giro d’Italia with Steven Kruijswijk leading the way.
Kruijswijk had initially planned to race this year’s Tour de France, but he missed the race after suffering a shoulder injury at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Instead, he will lead a Jumbo-Visma squad at the Giro that also includes Koen Bouwman, Tony Martin, Christoph Pfingsten, Tobias Foss, Chris Harper, Antwan Tolhoek, and Jos van Emden.
| GoPro’s new Hero 9 Black
It was only 11 months ago that GoPro released its Hero 8 action camera, and now there’s a new top dog. The Hero 9 offers up to 5K resolution in addition to more common formats and impressive slow-mo options. Still photos get a similar boost to 20MP. There’s a new front LCD screen for easier self-shot framing, while a new battery is said to increase runtime by 30%.
The camera costs $449.99 / £429.99 / AU$699.95, which is a bit more expensive than the Hero 8 Black’s launch price.
| Coming up at the Tour
After some tough GC days at the Tour de France, Stage 19 will likely see the sprinters’ teams trying to keep it together for a bunch kick. That said, there is some up-and-down on the road to the finish line in Champagnole, so we’ll see how things play out on the day.
In case you missed it
| A day at the back of the Giro Rosa
As Owen Rogers writes, it’s tough riding at the back.
Today’s featured image of Michael Kwiatkowski and Richard Carapaz arriving together on stage 18 of the Tour de France comes from Cor Vos.