TDF Stage 18: Ineos Duo Triumphant

Former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski and Giro winner Richard Carapaz (both Ineos) combine to ride away on final big mountain stage with Kwiatkowski given the stage win – Roglic continues to lead overall

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TDF Stage 18: Ineos Duo Triumphant

Photo: ASO

First and second at La Roche-sur-Foron, the first European town to have installed public electricity lights back in 1885, Michal Kwiatkowski and Richard Carapaz crossed the line and in that order but celebrated the triumph together.

It’s the first Tour de France stage victory for Ineos since the last one under the colours of Team Sky by Geraint Thomas at L’Alpe d’Huez in 2018. Kwiatkowski’s last victory was the 2018 Tour de Pologne. This is the first Tour de France stage win for the 2014 world champion turned a domestique.

There were 150 riders who started stage 17 at Méribel and a group of 32 riders managed to go clear before the intermediate sprint at Aime, km 14: Jonathan Castroviejo, Richard Carapaz, Michal Kwiatkowski, Dylan Van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nans Peters (Ag2r La Mondiale), Green jersey Sam Bennett, Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Rudy Molard, Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren), Alberto Bettiol, Tejay Van Garderen (EF Education First), Dayer Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Dario Cataldo, Nelson Oliveira, José Joaquín Rojas, Carlos Verona (Movistar Team), Simon Geschke, Matteo Trentin (CCC Team), Nicolas Edet, Jesús Herrada (Cofidis), Luis León Sánchez (Astana Pro Team), Jasper de Buyst, Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Krists Neilands (Israel Start-Up Nation), Michael Gogl, Michael Valgren (NTT Pro Cycling), Nikias Arndt, Marc Hirschi, Soren Kragh Andersen, Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb).

B&B Hotels-Vital Concept was one of the six teams who weren’t represented at the front, and so set the pace in the peloton. Sam Bennett extended his lead in the Green jersey competition by winning the intermediate sprint over Matteo Trentin and Pete Sagan. The sprinters then lost contact with the breakaway on the climb to Cormet de Roselend (km 46). At the top, 19 riders were left in the front group, including Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-McLaren) who had bridged the gap by himself while Julian Alaphilippe and Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Romain Sicard (Total Direct Energie), Quentin Pacher and Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital) had tried but failed to do so.

Hirschi outsprinted Carapaz to take 10 points in the KOM competition and they forged on together before eventually being rejoined at the front by Edet, Kwiatkowski and Bilbao. Edet was first to get dropped 3km before the summit of Les Saisies (km 91) where Hirschi outsprinted Carapaz once again but the Frenchman Edet from Cofidis made it back to the front just after the Swiss Hirschi crashed as he tried to follow the Equatorian down the descent.

Up the col des Aravis (km 117.5), Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) was the first top climber to be dropped by the yellow jersey group that had a 7’30″ deficit on the leaders at the bottom of the second last categorized climb. Edet was dropped again from the front group and overhauled by Hirschi. The Swiss rider was close (25″) to making it across on the way up the Col des Saisies but he eventually paid for the side effects of his crash leaving Carapaz to make the best of his challenge for the polka dot jersey.

On the Montée du Plateau des Glières, the Ineos duo (Carapaz-Kwiatkowski) dropped Bilbao 3.5km before the summit whilst Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) rode away from the yellow jersey group for a short time before being dragged back just before the summit as Pogacar attacked to score some KOM points. There was drama for Aussie Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) who punctured on the gravel section of Plateau des Glières. It took him 20km to make it back to the yellow jersey group.

Ahead of that group, there was now only Carapaz and Kwiatkowski who rode the last 27km together. They shared their celebration with the crowd in the last 800 metres and Kwiatkowski took the win while Carapaz moved into the lead of the KOM competition with two points more than Pogacar. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) made sure that none of Primoz Roglic’s rivals took the time bonus for third place with Roglic’s lead not being threatened by any of his rivals.

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Michal Kwiatkowski: “I’m just grateful to the whole team and Richard [Carapaz]. This is an incredible day for us. I’ll never forget that. I get nice moments in cycling but this one gave me goose bumps in the last kilometres, I don’t know how many but the gap was so big that we knew we were going to make it. [Marc] Hirschi was fighting against Richard for the polka dot jersey. He took a corner way too fast. I was right behind him. I went on my brakes. It was better to ride at 99% and stay safe. Hirschi wasn’t keen to work before, so we wanted to do our own race. We put on some show today and we deserve a big celebration.”

“Egan (Bernal) was sad when he was leaving the race but he was wishing us good luck. Hopefully he enjoyed that on the television because that was some race. Collectively we tried in the last three days everything we could to be in the breakaway and win the stage and finally today – most of us we found the best legs ever I have to say. The way we rode with Richard was just incredible.

Primoz Roglic: “It’s been two hards days in a row. But again the team did a great job, I was there, so yeah… It’s one day less to work. It is always a lot of pace to do, a lot of climbs to overcome. We managed it very good along with the team. All day we rode where we had to be and we were in constant control. It was very difficult with the sequence of climbs and the number of altitude metres. We did that well and we were still well represented in the end. I don’t remember what I said to Tadej on the descent. For sure, something fun. Everything is fine, we get along very well. I rode for myself, because it’s the safest thing to go through. I focus on myself because it’s what I can manage. So far we did a great job along with the team. There are some tricky days to come. The time trial will decide all the rankings, but tomorrow is another day to be focused because it’s far from a flat stage. I feel good and I am very confident for tomorrow and Saturday’s time trial.”

Richard Carapaz: “All the hard work we’ve put during these three weeks of racing and all the sacrifices we’ve made have finally paid off today. We are very happy of Kwiatkowski’s victory, and also of this polka-dot jersey I’m wearing. It’s been a great day. On the last kilometres, we just talked to congratulate ourselves. We fought hard from the start of the stage; we put a big effort to make the breakaway stick… And once we knew we are alone, the two of us, with a big gap, we just enjoyed the moment. Now that we have the KOM jersey, we will defend it with all the energy we have left on our legs and try to bring it all the way to Paris.”

Tadej Pogacar: “It was one of the toughest stages on the profile, and for sure it was hard. Jumbo did great job to control. I tried on the last climb, but it was not possible to drop my rivals. I didn’t have better legs than everybody else. I sprinted for the 3rd place, but it was not possible either. I’m thankful to my team and I’m happy about my performance. I don’t remember what Primoz told me… I think we were both happy nothing happened on the gravel section, because there were big chances of puncturing. I didn’t know Richie Porte had a puncture. We knew he was dropped… But now I know, and I’m glad he came back because it would have been unfortunate had he lost his place due to bad luck. I’m not really close to the yellow jersey. If Primoz has a super bad day, I may stand a chance… But actually I just hope to have a good day and secure my place on the GC.”

Adam Yates: “In the beginning it was fine, everything was under control and I had a lot of teammates around me and we just tried to stay cool and out of trouble. As the day went on it just got worse and worse, it is stage 18 of the Tour so I think everybody is tried and so am I. We held on for as long as we could but in the end, we lost some time but I am still inside the top 10 on GC.

“It was a really tough climb, we’ve done it before in the Tour in 2018, so I knew it was going to be really tough, especially with the gravel section over the top. Once I started suffering, I just tried to keep calm and tried to pace myself a little bit and then took a bit of a rest of the descent. Thankfully I had Esteban with me, we worked well in the valley towards the finish but again it was a hard day.

“It was tough [the gravel section] and there were quite a lot of holes, by that point I was still off the back and trying to find my rhythm and trying to pace myself and then once we got over the top I was with Esteban and we did what we could to get back, but unfortunately today wasn’t enough.”

Connor Swift: “It still rolled really fast today, I was hoping for the breakaway, but I couldn’t. I think a breakaway tomorrow has a good chance of winning, so why not give it a shot at this stage? There will also be the Champs-Élysées on Sunday, with an expected sprint in which we will try to be present in the final as well. ”

Tom Dumoulin: “Wout is really incredible. He single-handedly made sure that Landa couldn’t take much of a lead and that the rest couldn’t attack earlier. Many of the GC guys even had a hard time following him. Then, when Pogacar attacked, Sepp stayed with Primoz to support him. Wout and I couldn’t go with them, but we managed to come back in the final. I then did a leadout for Wout. I think it could have been possible for Primoz to sprint for the time bonuses, but it was a lot safer if Wout would take them in front of Pogacar. This was another great team effort. I feel better every day and I am already looking forward to the time trial. I haven’t done a time trial in a long time, but I am very motivated to show myself.”

Wout van Aert: “I was completely cooked. It was such a tough stage. When they attacked on the final climb, I had to give in because the pace was too high. They had told me that I had to keep going because I still had to sprint to take the bonus seconds away from the competition. Together with Tom that worked out. So in the end I did not suffer for nothing. It was a great day for us. Having the four of us in the front makes it also a lot easier to counter attacks.”

Marc Hirschi: “I felt good and took many points for the Mountains jersey, but then I crashed. I tried to come back, but I couldn’t. I wanted to chase Carapaz down, but I was using a new tyre. I am not used too… And I slipped and crashed. Being Super Combative was not a goal. But now that I know, it might be a good thing to get it. This is how I am: I like attacking. It’s the Tour de France and I will fight to the end.”

Sam Bennett (Green jersey): “It was hard, but I knew the start of the stage was very important. I had to follow Sagan and beat him on the Intermediate Sprint. The rest of the stage was not so pleasant. We found ourselves in a very big breakaway and I’m happy I got some more points. I have a 50 points advantage now, and that’s a safe margin in case something unfortunate happen. Also, being on the break gave me a head start on the first climb, which was good as I could set my own pace. I try not to think of how close I am to winning the green jersey. I prefer to go day by day.”

Nairo Quintana: “It’s still a day gone by in anticipation of the climb back to Paris. It’s important for my teammates, for the team and for myself. It will be one more Tour in my legs! I am going through a difficult time, but it will pass. I have to accept it, and then move on. ”

Enric Mas (6th overall): “It was such a difficult day, and we’re satisfied with how it went. I think we defended ourselves well, also trying to go on the attack and leaving an overall good impression. Doing our best, doing what we were thinking at this Tour, a good overall result, and step by step, we’re getting there. We couldn’t get terrain back yesterday, but we got those two places today, ahead of world-class riders like Yates and Urán, two remarkable competitors, and we’re happy with what we did today. We already said before that the third week should have been our best in terms of form, and we proved it again today.

“That final gravel road section, after the long efforts and the slopes of Glières, ended up being so hard even if quite short. Seeing how the situation was after that climb, with Porte dropped and the other rivals trailing further behind, I was interested on having the group going further, and that’s why I was talking to López [he also did at the finish, and was asked by the journalists on it – ed.] There were quite different interests in the group, with some people wanting to pull, others not willing, Jumbo telling us that Wout (van Aert) was coming from behind – and in the end, the two groups got together.

Miguel Angel Lopez: A hard day, but I am happy to pass it without problem and to finish up there with the best riders. Once again the team did a great job for me and I was able to save some energy for the last the most difficult climb. The pace of our group on the last climb was really high, so it was not possible to try something. The gravel section was a bit dangerous, but I managed to pass it well. I am happy to keep my position in the general classification and not to lose time to the others. Well, one stage less and we are a bit closer to Paris. On Saturday we will have a tough individual time trial and of course I will try to show my maximum there. Every time trial is different and a time trial at the 20th stage of the Tour de France differs a lot from any other race. All you can do – just to give your all. But, first of all we have to do tomorrow’s stage well, – said Miguel Angel Lopez after the last day in big mountains.

1. Michal Kwiatkowski INEOS Grenadiers 04:47:33
2. Richard Carapaz INEOS Grenadiers @ st
3. Wout Van Aert Team Jumbo – Visma @ 01:51
4. Primoz Roglic Team Jumbo – Visma @ 01:53
5. Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates @ 01:53
6. Richie Porte Trek-Segafredo @ 01:54
7. Enric Mas Movistar Team @ 01:54
8. Mikel Landa Bahrain-McLaren @ 01:54
9. Damiano Caruso Bahrain-McLaren @ 01:54
10. Tom Dumoulin Team Jumbo – Visma @ 01:54
11. Sepp Kuss Team Jumbo – Visma @ 01:54
12. Miguel Angel Lopez Astana Pro Team @ 01:54
13. Marc Hirschi Team Sunweb @ 02:04
14. Pello Bilbao Bahrain-McLaren @ 02:04
15. Simon Geschke CCC Team @ 04:32
16. Nans Peters AG2R La Mondiale @ 04:32
17. Adam Yates Mitchelton-Scott @ 04:34
18. Guillaume Martin Cofidis @ 04:34
19. Rigoberto Uran EF Pro Cycling @ 04:34
20. Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team @ 04:34

44. Hugh Carthy EF Pro Cycling @ 14:07
54. Connor Swift Team Arkea-Samsic @ 19:27
66. Jack Bauer Mitchelton-Scott @ 21:17
88. Nairo Quintana Team Arkea-Samsic @ 28:51
109. Daniel Martin Israel Start-Up Nation @ 31:25
130. Luke Rowe INEOS Grenadiers @ 31:32
DNF André Greipel Israel Start-Up Nation

1. Primoz Roglic Team Jumbo – Visma 79:45:30
2. Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates @ 57
3. Miguel Angel Lopez Astana Pro Team @ 01:27
4. Richie Porte Trek-Segafredo @ 03:06
5. Mikel Landa Bahrain-McLaren @ 03:28
6. Enric Mas Movistar Team @ 04:19
7. Adam Yates Mitchelton-Scott @ 05:55
8. Rigoberto Uran EF Pro Cycling @ 06:05
9. Tom Dumoulin Team Jumbo – Visma @ 07:24
10. Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team @ 12:12

Full Result Here


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