Stage 18 results: French riders duel for Tour glory
SAN DIEGO, July 23, 2015 – The second Alpine stage in the 2015 Tour de France brought a breakaway attempt, with the overall leaders feeling no urgency to follow them. It allowed individual riders and teams to dream of grabbing their bit of glory.
To the delight of French fans, Romain Bardet of AG2R-Le Mondiale outran his countryman Pierre Rolland of Europecar up the spectacular switchbacks of Les Lacets de Montvernier, which means “The Laces.” One look from above the climb explains where the route got its name. Bardet gained 40 seconds on his rivals, and even more on the downhill sprint., navigating the way with skill to avoid any mishaps. Bardet said having two teammates in the original breakaway helped get him to the final climb with enough energy left to win.
The overall leaders saw no change in the standings, with Nairo Quintana and Alejadro Valverde of Movistar and Alberto Contador of Tinkoff Saxo chasing Chris Froome and his countryman Geraint Thomas of Team Sky. The Sky boys seem unflappable and solid as the race comes down to its final days.
“Having Geraint Thomas in fourth position is a dream scenario,” said Froome. “Quintana and Valverde ride more conservatively because if they go for all or nothing, they risk losing their place on the podium, so we’re just focused on those two riders.
“I’m in a good shape. I’m in a better shape than two years ago. I’m quite confident that I’m in control of the situation. There are two really hard stages to do. I hope to come through those two stages with no problem. To win a stage would be amazing but at this point I’m not going to kill my team-mates for a stage win. The yellow jersey remains the priority,” said Froome.
Nairo Quiintana isn’t ready to concede the Tour just yet. “I still believe I can win the Tour. I feel good and my desire to win is enormous. I’ve got two opportunities left. Tomorrow and after tomorrow we’ll try and create the gaps we haven’t made today. La Toussuire is a nice finish but I prefer l’Alpe d’Huez: the more people the better … With all the climbs we’ve already done, Chris Froome might as well pay the price for his efforts. Me too! But I hope it won’t be the case.”
No sprinting today, so Peter Sagan took it easy and finished off the back with the green jersey safely on his back. Joaquim Rodriguez has been wearing the King of The Mountains jersey by default, on loan from Froome, but he won most of the climbing bonus points today win to now wear it as his own. Quintana in the white jersey as the best young rider.
Only 162 riders remain in the Tour out of the 198 riders who started. They can see the Eiffel Tower in the distance now. Finishing the grueling competition is a significant achievement and this group will do whatever it takes to make it to Paris on Sunday.
The third day in the Alps on Thursday starts with an immediately Category 1 climb, followed by three more before the day is over. Challengers Quintana, Contador and Valverde are starting to run out of time to make their assault on the yellow jersey. Everyone needs to stay sharp today.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow the Tour de France daily in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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