Michal Kwiatkowski has made up for Ineos disappointing Tour de France so far. The 30 year old Pole rode with teammate Richard Carapaz to the finish in La Roche-sur-Foron, but there was no battle for the stage win. The two went arm-in-arm across the finish line.
In the last two stages, Kwiatkowskis teammate Carapaz was already close to a stage win, but the 27-year-old Ecuadorian was just a bit short twice. Today it became clear well before the finish that the stage victory would go to an Ineos rider, with Kwiatkowski and Carapaz in the lead.
For cycling enthusiasts, the lack of a sprint for the stage win was an anti-climax, but Kwiatkowski enjoyed the final kilometres. “From the moment I knew we were going to make it, I had goose bumps. It is an incredible day for us.”
Watch Kwiatkowskis reaction here:
Ineos is working on a disappointing Tour. Hope was placed on leader Egan Bernal, but the Colombian lost a lot of time in the mountains and definitively put the brakes on after the sixteenth stage.
Primoz Roglic didnt get into trouble in the last mountain stage. The leader of Jumbo-Visma kept the yellow and defended a 57 second lead over Tadej Pogacar in the climbing time trial to La Planche des Belles Filles on Saturday.
The start of the eighteenth stage was dominated by the battle for the green jersey. Sam Bennett, Peter Sagan and Matteo Trentin joined the leading group of 32 riders. The Irishman of Deceuninck-QuickStep defeated Sagan and Trentin and increased his lead in the points classification.
Bennett now has 298 points. Sagan is second with 246 points, just before Trentin with 235 points. Another sprinter, André Greipel, stepped down in this stage. The 38 year old German rode this Tour with his best result in the tenth stage, when he finished sixth.
Famous names in leading group
The large leading group quickly shrunk to nineteen men. Amongst others Marc Hirschi, who is working on an impressive Tour de France and has already written the twelfth stage to his name, showed himself again from the front. Carapaz was also back in the lead, just like the last two days.
Hirschi came first on top of the Cormet de Roselend and then didnt keep his legs still. He got Carapaz, Kwiatkowski, Pello Bilbao and Nicolas Edet with him. The five got a good lead of almost nine minutes from the peloton.
Hirschi is known as a good descender, but made a mistake in the descent of the Col des Saisies. The 22-year-old Swiss rider slipped into the corner. Except for some scrapes, Hirschi remained unharmed, but the other four escapees did not wait for him. After a last effort Hirschi gave up and let himself sink back.
Towards the last climb of the day, the Plateau des Glières of the outdoor category, Edet couldnt follow the others and Carapaz, Kwiatkowski and Bilbao continued with the three of them. On the climb the two of Ineos took off together, Bilbao had to unload. Carapaz was the first to reach the top and took over the lead in the mountain classification
The lead of the Ineos teammates had shrunk to four minutes after the last climb, but Carapaz and Kwiatkowski were able to battle for the stage win.
In the peloton Jumbo-Visma set the pace. Among others Adam Yates, number five in the general classification, and Rigoberto Urán, sixth in the classification, had to let go of the group.
Wout Poels thought it was too slow and took off with Mikel Landa in his wheel. Moments later, the leader of Bahrain McLaren continued on his own, but Landa did not manage to stay out of the grip of the Jumbo-Visma riders for long. Roglic didnt let any of his closest competitors take off and held on without any problems.
The gravel strip that followed after the summit of Plateau des Glières caused problems at Richie Porte. The number four of the general classification had a leak and the leader of Trek-Segafredo struggled to rejoin the Roglic group.
Watch the reaction of Portes team leader Steven de Jongh here: