20/07/17 - 6:55 PM
Briançon - Col d'Izoard
Tour de France • Stage18

Briançon - Col d'Izoard
Tour de France - 20 July 2017

Tour de France – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 18:55 on 20 July 2017. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Mikel Landa is up to fourth place at the expense of Fabio Aru while Barguil leapfrogs Contador into ninth place.


Here was the moment Warren Barguil made history by becoming the first rider to win a Tour stage atop the Col d'Izoard.


Today's top ten in Stage 18 on the Izoard...


Barguil's second victory on this race - and the unprecedented finish on the Izoard - sees him pocket another 40pts in the KOM competition and move onto an insurmountable 169pts. What a Tour he has had.


That means Bardet moves into second place, 23 seconds behind Froome now. Uran may have lost a second there because there was a little gap... Yes, indeed, it's a two-second drop for Uran, who is now 29 seconds behind Froome on GC.


Atapuma holds on for second place - just - before Bardet pips Froome for third ahead of Uran, and with it, takes the final four bonus seconds.


Warren Barguil is all smiles as he rides the final few hundred metres knowing that he has made history on the Col d'Izoard today. What a victory for the Frenchman.


Barguil is going to take his second win of the race here - and move further up the overall standings. What a way to secure the polka dot jersey...


Bardet and Atapuma pass under the flamme rouge - and the Frenchman puts in a little dig to drop the Colombian.


It's not over yet! Froome, Uran and Bardet have caught Landa - and they're closing in on the two leaders...


But Uran and Bardet manage to rejoin Froome once the road heads uphill again... And further up the road, Barguil has caught Atapuma!


CHRIS FROOME ATTACKS! The yellow jersey wants to win this stage and distance his rivals and he's dropped them just ahead of the small downhill segment in the Casse Deserte.


BARDET ATTACKS: The Frenchman makes the first move and only Froome and Uran can follow - for now.


It's getting very close... Barguil is 30 seconds behind Atapuma while Landa is 20 seconds further back and just ahead of the yellow jersey group.


Barguil has caught and passed both Lutsenko and Gallopin. What a Tour he's having. To be fair, Landa has also caught Lutsenko. Further back, Aru is digging deep behind the yellow jersey group.


The Sky train disintegrates as Kwiatkowski hits the wall and Nieve peels off - allowing Mikel Landa to accelerate and ride clear of the yellow jersey group. Intriguing...


Atapuma has 30 seconds on Gallopin, 35 seconds on Lutsenko, 55 seconds on Barguil and 1:20 on the yellow jersey group. Meanwhile, Contador has been caught by Froome et al.


Dan Martin is the first of the GC favourites to attack - and his acceleration sees Fabio Aru dropping back form the group of favourites.


Chris Froome still has Mikel Nieve, Mikel Landa and Michal Kwiatkowski with him. What a formidable team Sky is. They trail Atapuma by 1:35.


Barguil is looking very good here - he's just 1:20 behind Atapuma now...


Barguil and Contador have joined forces and they're reeling in and passing the remnants of the break. Contador has found Bauke Mollema, who was in the break, and the two Trek riders will join forces. Back with the yellow jersey group, and Aru, Martin, Meintjes and Yates have managed to rejoin.


Warren Barguil attacks from the main pack with the gap down to two minutes for Atapuma. The Frenchman is followed by Alberto Contador, who is still hungry to get something from this Tour.


Atapuma has caught and passed Lutsenko on the front of the race.


Aru in trouble! The Italian national champion is slipping back - as is Martin, Yates and Meintjes...


Sergio Henao of Team Shy has been dropped by the main pack - as has Mathias Frank and Alexis Vuillermoz of Ag2R-La Mondiale.


Atapuma is now closing in on Lutsenko and must be the favourite for the win today, what with his climbing pedigree.


Meanwhile, back with the race and Atapuma ups the tempo from this chasing group - and he's pulling away from both Gallopin and Navarro.

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Another five-time Tour winner's reign ended on the Izoard eleven years later when Frenchman Bernard Hinault conceded the yellow jersey to the American Greg LeMond, who powered clear of his La Vie Claire team-mate in the Casse Déserte. LeMond caught rival Urs Zimmermann and the pair finished three minutes ahead of an abject Hinault. That night in Briançon, LeMond and Hinault had their much publicised spat ahead of the apparent truce one day later, which manifested itself in their infamous arm-in-arm finale on Alpe d’Huez. Three years later, the American return to the climb and - this time in yellow - gained 13 precious seconds over his big rival Laurent Fignon in a stage that ended in Briançon. One day later, LeMond lost the jersey to Fignon again - only to regain it a few days later on the streets of Paris by just eight seconds. So, you could say that the Izoard once again proved instrumental.

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Part of the Izoard's mystique comes in its knack of calling time on the careers of some of cycling's most treasured figures. In the same way that Court No.2 at Wimbledon has built up a reputation for being the graveyard of champions, so too has the Izoard hammered a fair few nails into the coffins of the seemingly immortal. Eddy Merckx’s era-ending fall on 14th July 1975 at the hands of Bernard Thévanet was likened to that of the Bastille. One day earlier, the great Belgian had conceded the race lead to his French rival after his dramatic défaillance on the climb to Pra Loup. But with a gap of just 58 seconds separating the two, there was all to play for in stage 16 on the Izoard. After a series of attacks on the early slopes, Thévanet dropped Merckx and rode through the Casse Déserte with a 2’25” advantage before finishing alone in Serre-Chevalier to all but end the reign of King Eddy”. While Merckx kept battling to Paris, Thévanet had won the Tour on the Izoard.


Still 10 clicks to go for Lutsenko, who has 43 seconds to play with ahead of Atapuma, Navarro and Gallopin. They have just passed through the hamlet of La Chalp. The main yellow jersey pack is 3:30 down.


Tony Gallopin has managed to catch Atapuma and Navarro. Meanwhile, back in the pack, Ag2R-La Mondiale still set a fast tempo with Froome's Sky army just behind. Barguil is still here - and the polka dot jersey shakes the hand of KOM rival Thomas De Gendt when the Belgian is reeled in and passed following his cameo in the break earlier on.


Two kilometres from the summit of the southern side there are memorial plaques laid down by L’Équipe to commemorate the two riders most readily associated with the Izoard: Italy's two-time Tour winner Fausto Coppi and French triple Tour champion Louison Bobet. Between 1949 and 1954 – when the road was just a rustic dirt track and riders had to dodge sharp flints as well as the glare of the sun as they toiled up the backbone, over the bare shoulders and towards the frowning brow of the mountain – both men soloed over the summit after making decisive attacks on the Izoard (Coppi twice and Bobet three times).


Gautier peels off the front, his work for the day done. Meanwhile, Atapuma and Navarro have attacked from the chasing group in a bid to reel in lone leader Lutsenko.


The pace is pretty punishing in the pack - and even Warren Barguil looks to be struggling. No surprise: he already has his stage win, plus the polka dot jersey in the bag.


Meanwhile, back with the peloton and numerous riders are being shelled out the back already - including Oliver Naesen, who was pace-setting for Bardet earlier, and Esteban Chaves, who is still fighting back from injury earlier in the season. AG2R-La Mondiale still front the peloton through Cyril Gautier, who has dropped back from the break to help pave the way for his team-mate Romain Bardet who, like Rigo Uran, trails Froome by 27 seconds on GC.


Lone leader Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) is onto the final big climb of this year's Tour de France - the HC Col d'Izoard (14.1km at 7.3%).


Edet may be struggling but his team-mate Navarro has just launched an attack from the chasing pack - sparking a response from Atapuma and some of the others.


Edet is already starting to struggle ahead of the climb proper. Lutsenko drops his companion and rides to the foot of the Izoard alone.


Edet takes on a gel and a sticky bidon from the Astana team car of his fellow escapee, Lutsenko. A nice touch. They have 32 seconds on the Gallopin chasing group, 1:30 on the rest of the break and 4:30 over the pack.


Lutsenko and Edet have dropped Hardy. They have 4:45 over the pack and so the winner may not necessarily come from the break - especially once the GC battle explodes on the Izoard.


Further back in the main body of the break - who trail the front of the race by about 1:20 - and there is some real climbing calibre. Riders to watch include Pauwels and Cummings of Dimension Data, Mate of Cofidis, Durasek of UAE Team Emirates, Roche of BMC, Talansky of Cannondale-Drapac and Gautier of Ag2R-La Mondiale.


Hardy, Edet and Lutsenko have opened up a small gap on this false flat to the foot of the climb. Behind, Ulissi and Molard have joined the chasers. Ulissi is a tidy climber, but doesn't have the stamina for something as relentless as the Izoard.


Dani Navarro is a good climber on his day - the only problem being the fact that his day was about a decade ago. The same could be said of Romain Sicard, who was once tipped to be the next big thing from the Basque region, but never fulfilled his potential at Euskaltel or Europcar beyond.


Of these eight leaders, the big danger man is the Colombian Darwin Atapuma - who was second over the top of the Galibier yesterday.


The four leaders are joined by Edet, Navarro, Grmay and Hardy so we have eight ahead now as they race up the Guil gorge towards the turn up the Izoard just ahead of the Chateau Queyras.


Since the Belgian Philippe Thys became the first man to scale the Col d’Izoard in pole position in the 1922 Tour, the race has returned to its daunting slopes and the eerie Casse Déserte on 33 occasions. Prior to the Second World War, Tour winners Henri Pélissier (1923), Sylvère Maes (1936) and Gino Bartali (1938) were all first over the summit en route to wearing yellow in Paris.


Descent over for the leaders, who reach the down of Guillestre. From here the road edges uphill and gradually gets steeper and steeper all the way to the summit. Game on.


Lutsenko, Atapuma and Sicard have joined Gallopin again on the front of the race. They have about 35 seconds on the other escapees and 5:55 on the Ag2R-La Mondiale-led peloton.


While the riders are on the descent it's a good time to look at this downhill primer from our friends at GCN: 6 tips for safer descending...


Tony Gallopin has edged ahead of the other leaders to open up a small gap on this descent of the Col de Vars. It's all a bit futile because the Frenchman is not renowned for his climbing and is bound to explode on the Izoard.


Belgian champion Oliver Naesen leads the Ag2R-La Mondiale-fronted main pack over the summit of the Vars, 6:35 down on the leaders.


Andrey Lutsenko zips clear to take the maximum 10pts over the summit of the Col de Vars for Astana. Gallopin is second ahead of Sicard and Atapuma. The Ukrainian has 1pt in the KOM standings and so moves on to 11pts now - and joint 21st place with Lilian Calmejane and Brice Feillu. And that's it: Warren Barguil's polka dot jersey is his unless the Frenchman crashes out of the race.


Sicard and Lutsenko has been joined by Darwin Atapuma and Tony Gallopin. They have about 20 seconds on the other escapees.


Five Ag2R-La Mondiale riders move onto the front of the peloton to spell the end for Luke Rowe's shift. Finally, Romain Bardet's team is taking it to Sky.


Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) puts in a big attack from the break and is joined by Andrey Lutsenko of Astana. The two open up a small gap as they edge closer to the summit.


The main pack is still being led by Team Sky with Luke Rowe - the Tour's Lanterne Rouge, more than four hours down on his team-mate Froome - setting the tempo. Dan McLay was the last man on GC until he withdrew through illness yesterday.


Pauwels is back with the break as Dani Davarro of Cofidis - also in yesterday's break - has a dig. Teisj Benoot of Lotto Soudal is near the front, too.


Serge Pauwels - who was very aggressive from the break yesterday - now leads the way on the Col de Vars, with numerous riders dropped: Clarke, Roelandts, Swift to name a few...


Attack from Nicolas Edet from the break. The Frenchman is followed by Durasek, Clarke and one of the Astana boys. But the gap is small.


The break is whittled down to 22 riders on the early slopes of the Vars as Team Sky controls the tempo back with the pack. So far, so uneventful today.


Time to get serious: the break moves onto the Cat.1 Col de Vars (9.3km at 7.5%). Straight away, riders are off the back while Serge Pauwels moves onto the front.


The break has split in two with a leading group of 25 holding a small gap over the second group of 29. The peloton is still 7:20 back, with Team Sky and Bora Hansgrohe sharing the chasing duties on the front. The 25 are: Jan Bakelants and Cyril Gautier (AG2R-La Mondiale), Nicolas Roche (BMC), Andrei Grivko, Bakhtiar Kozhatayev and Michael Valgren (Astana), Darwin Atapuma, Kristjian Durasek, Marco Marcato and Ben Swift (UAE), Rudy Molard (FDJ), Daryl Impey (Orica), Serge Pauwels and Jaco Venter (Dimension Data), Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step), Maurits Lammertink (Katusha), Tiejs Benoot and Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Soudal), Nicolas Edet and Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Thomas Voeckler and Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Simon Clarke and Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) and Marco Minnaard (Wanty).


Earlier, we spoke to Chris Froome about today's summit finish on the Izoard.


It looks Primoz Roglic - who became the first Slovenian to win a stage on the Tour de France yesterday - received some fan mail after his exploits on the Galibier...


Some hefty post-prandial pulling on the front from Marcus Burghardt sees the gap come down to 7:40 for the breakaway. Burghardt working to being the race back together given the fact that his team, Bora-Hansgrophe, don't have a man in the large leading group.


Those 20 points in the intermediate sprint put Sonny Colbrelli up into third place in the rather-blunt battle for green. What was a thrilling duel between five-stage-win Marcel Kittel and the battling Michael Matthews came to an abrupt end yesterday when the German withdrew from the race moments after the Australian moved within 9pts of his tally. Kittel had crashed badly ahead of the first of four climbs and later threw in the towel on the summit of the Croix de Fer. Matthews (Team Subweb) now has 364 points and looks certain to wear the green jersey into Paris, with Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) on 204 points, Colbrelli now on 164pts and Alexander Kristoff - the Katusha-Alpecin rider who also crashed yesterday - on 158 points.


The peloton edges through the feed zone with most riders taking on a musette of grab ahead of the dual ascent of the Vars and Izoard. The gap is pushing nine minutes now as the riders zip through Barcelonette.


The gap is up to 8:10. In this lull before the storm, how about watching this exclusive video on Eurosport in which some top former cycling stars discuss their relationship with climbing and the mountains... Featuring Juan Antonio Flecha, Thor Hushovd, Brian #The Coash' Smith, Matt Stephens, Sean Kelly...


Sonny Colbrelli wins the intermediate sprint at Les Thuiles to single-handedly double Bahrain-Merida's race prize money. The Italian beat De Gendt and Dion Smith.


Many thought that Chris Froome would look to assert his authority on the race and pick up an elusive stage win today, but it's not looking that way: Sky are more concerned with controlling things and marking out Froome's rivals. If Froome doesn't win Saturday's time trial in Marseille - and goes on to win his fourth Tour in Paris on Sunday - then he'll become the seventh rider in Tour history to win the race without picking up a stage en route. The last? Well, discounting Alberto Contador - who did it in 2010 before being retrospectively disqualified - it's another Spaniard, Oscar Pereiro, in 2006.


Those seven leaders have been reeled in by the rest of the break, so we're back to having 54 men out in front - with a huge lead of 7:35, so it's looking like the victory will come from one of these riders and not one of the big GC favourites on the Izoard.


A reminder that Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands won the women's La Course race on the Izoard earlier today. Here's how the Orica-Scott rider made history with her victory over Britain's Lizzie Deignan by 43 seconds.


Markel Irizar (Trek-Segafredo) is being tended by the race doctor. He has a cut elbow and his jersey is rather torn so the Spaniard must have taken a tumble somewhere on the descent, perhaps, from the last climb.


Chris Froome has all eight of his remaining Sky team-mates with him on the front of the peloton - with just the absent Geraint Thomas no doubt watching at home on TV. The Welshman - who wore the first yellow jersey of the race after winning the Dusseldorf time trial - crashed out on the desent of the Col de la Biche in the Vosges in that hectic stage 9 to Chambery, won by Rigo Uran.


The gap is up to 6:10 for the seven leaders over the peloton, with the remainder of the big break around 30 seconds back.


This break has had a bit of a shake up: seven riders now have a bit of a gap on the others. They are: Serge Pauwels, Sylvain Chavanel, Gianluca Brambilla, Angelo Tulik, Simon Clarke, Ben Swift and Florian Vachon.


Thomas De Gendt takes the maximum 2pts over the top of the climb ahead of Nicolas Edet, who joined the leaders before the summit. Calmejane is third over the top, with the other escapees not far behind. The peloton is still 5+ minutes back. Whatever happens today, De Gendt can't catch the leader of the KOM competition, Warren Barguil, who has 129 points, with De Gendt now on to 63. Yesterday's winner Primoz Roglic has 80pts and there are another 56pts available in the race - so he'll have to do something special if he wants to take the polka dot jersey from Barguil's shoulders.


Lilian Calmejane - a stage winner from earlier in the race - puts in the first attack from this large break. The Frenchman provokes a response from Thomas De Gendt, who has pretty much been on the offensive every day of the past week - but still has nothing to show for it.


The break are onto the first categorised climb of the day, the Cat.3 Cote de Demoiselles Coiffees (3.9km at 5.2%).


The aerial helicopter images are superb today. It certainly helps that the subject material is so majestic. This is the artificial Lac de Serre-Ponçon which didn't 'open' until 1961 after construction started six years earlier.


The gap is up to five minutes for this large 54-man break.


While three teams are not represented in this break, some have more than half their riders involved - indeed, more riders than FDJ have left in the race.


It's a clearer day today than yesterday, which was overcast and grey. The sun is out and the temperature is in the mid 20s. The Alpine views are, needless to say, quite breathtaking.


It's Colombia national day today so perhaps we'll see something special from the likes of Rigoberto Uran, Nairo Quintana, Carlos Betancur, Darwin Atapuma, Sergio Henao, Jarlinson Pantano and Esteban Chaves. Two of those riders - Atapuma and Betancur - are in today's break, which now has a gap of 4:30 over the pack. Remember, no Colombian has ever won the Tour de France although two riders have finished on the podium: Fabio Parra in 1988 and Quintana three times - in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Perhaps Uran could become the third this year - or even the first to win the whole thing...

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We're running a series of Polls on Twitter today about your best Tour sprinters, climbers, time triallists and the like. Check our Twitter page for more...


We mentioned that Brice Feillu was the best placed rider in this break: the rangy Frenchman, a stage winner in Andorra way back in 2009, is 16th on GC but 33:32 down on Chris Froome. The gap is currently 4:40 for this break so Brice has a fair bit of work to do if he wants to win this Tour... (joke).


It's worth adding that just three teams are not represented in this break: Team Sky (who have bigger fish to fry and a yellow jersey to protect), LottoNL-Jumbo (who won yesterday's stage through Primoz Roglic) and Bora-Hansgrohe (who, er... that might explain why Marcus Burghardt was earlier trying to bridge across... it's not going to be pleasant tonight at the Bora dinner table).


The 54 leaders (thanks to letour.fr): Jan Bakelants and Cyril Gautier (AG2R-La Mondiale), Carlos Betancur and Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Alessandro De Marchi, Amaël Moinard and Nicolas Roche (BMC), Andrei Grivko, Bakhtiar Kozhatayev, Alexei Lutsenko and Michael Valgren (Astana), Darwin Atapuma, Kristjian Durasek, Marco Marcato, Ben Swift and Diego Ulissi (UAE), Rudy Molard (FDJ), Daryl Impey (Orica), Stephen Cummings, Serge Pauwels and Jaco Venter (Dimension Data), Gianluca Brambilla and Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step), Robert Kiserlovski, Maurits Lammertink, Tiago Machado and Nils Politt (Katusha), Tiejs Benoot, Thomas De Gendt, Tony Gallopin and Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Soudal), Simon Geschke (Sunweb), Dimitri Claeys, Nicolas Edet and Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Thomas Voeckler, Lilian Calmejane, Sylvain Chavanel, Romain Sicard and Angelo Tulik (Direct Energie), Pierre Rolland, Simon Clarke and Andrew Talansky (Cannondale), Sonny Colbrelli and Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrain-Merida), Guillaume Martin, Marco Minnaard and Dion Smith (Wanty), Brice Feillu, Elie Gesbert, Romain Hardy, Eduardo Sepulveda and Florian Vachon (Fortuneo).


Froome has no Sky team-mates in the break; Uran has three in Andrew Talansky, Pierre Rolland and Simon Clarke; Bardet has two in Jan Bakelants and Cyril Gautier; Aru has four in Michael Valgren, Andrey Lutsenko, Andrey Grivko and Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev.


Team Sky lead the peloton for their man in yellow, Chris Froome. He leads Romain Bardet and Rigoberto Uran by 27 seconds on GC, with Fabio Aru dropping to fourth yesterday at 53 seconds, with Mikel Landa completing the top five at 1:24.


Those four riders have been joined by the chasing group so we have around 51 riders out ahead - the best placed of which on GC is Frenchman Brice Feilllu of Fortuneo-Oscaro. Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) is there again, as are a host of usual suspects: Bauke Mollema, Sylvain Chavanel, Darwin Atapuma, Pierre Rolland, Simon Geschke, Cyril Gautier, as well as the originals in De Gendt, Calmejane, De Marchi and Gesbert.


Earlier today, Dutchwoman Annemiek Van Vleuten (Orica-Scott) won the fourth edition of La Course by Le Tour de France on the Col d'Izoard. Van Vleuten - who you may remember from that horrific crash during the Rio Olympics - attacked with 4.5km to go to cross the line 43 seconds ahead of British champion Lizzie Deignan and 1:23 ahead of Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini. The second part of La Course will see the women riders take part in a pursuit-style time trial in Marseille ahead of the men's ITT on Saturday.


There's a big split in the peloton as around 45 riders zip off the front in pursuit of those leaders - with many of the GC men sending team-mates up the road as relays for later on. So many subplots to play out today, with multiple battles on the cards - for yellow, for polka dots, for the stage, and for kudos.


The indefatigable Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) has opened up a gap along with Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Oscaro) and Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie).


The attacks come from the outset as the likes of Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal), Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie), Andrei Grivko (Astana) and Yukiya Arashiro (Bahrain-Merida) roll the dice.


And they're off! Christian Prudhomme waves his flag from the back of his red Skoda and the remaining 169 riders get this final day in the mountains under way...


Here's what's on the menu today - a long rolling opening schlep through the Alpine valleys and a loop away from Briancon ahead of a Cat.3 leg-stretcher, the tough Col de Vars and then the cherry on the top - the harder, southern side of the Izoard and its famous Casse Deserte.


Yesterday, Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) shrugged off an early crash and defied the mighty Col du Galibier to become the first Slovenian to win a stage on the Tour de France with a well-fought solo victory in Stage 17 in Serre-Chevalier. Chris Froome extended his overall lead on a day an injured Marcel Kittel was forced out.


Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage 18 of the Tour de France - the second of two Alpine stages that could well decide who ultimately wins the yellow jersey. It's a 179.5km ride from Briancon to the Col d'Izoard, where we will witness the first ever summit finish on this mythical climb.