2017 Paris-Nice stage winner Simon Yates has navigated the final mountains test at the Tour de France, finishing ninth on the 18th stage to Cole du Izoard today.
Yates lost touch with the yellow jersey group as attacks began to fire in the final five kilometres, but held his nerve and rode tempo to limit his time loss to 39seconds to race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) and 22seconds to white jersey contender Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates). Ahead, Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) won his second stage from an early attack on the final climb.
The 24-year-old ORICA-SCOTT rider’s performance continued his consistency on the more challenging terrain to see him maintain seventh place overall and the lead in the best young rider competition with three stages remaining.
“I had better legs today than yesterday and I didn’t lose much time so I think it was a good day,” Yates said. “I tried to do my own ride and my own rhythm and tackle the climb like this. I gave it everything so I have to be happy.”
“I was a little bit off that top group of riders on the final climb, I think it has been that way this whole Tour, but I am still happy with where I am at and how I have been riding.”
Yates holds a two-minute six-second lead to Meinjtes with two road stages and the penultimate time trial still to come.
“You can never think you have won something until the job is complete,” Yates said when asked if he had the white jersey sewn up. “We still have some hard stages to go, including the time trial, so you can never be sure until we get to Paris.”
“I’m in a good position. We need to be careful but I feel more confident now we have got through today.”
How it happened:
With today’s climbs presenting themselves late in the stage, the parcours welcomed a breakaway opportunity and 50 riders took up that challenge.
ORICA-SCOTT was represented amongst the large group by Daryl Impey who had a second consecutive strong performance in the mountains.
By the climbs, their advantage had reached a maximum of eight minutes but the group began to fracture as the road headed upwards.
Barguil was allowed to attack with Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo) early on the final climb whilst behind, all eyes were on the general classification group as Sky controlled the tempo before an initial push by AG2R La Mondiale.
The pressure dramatically reduced the advantage to the surviving breakaway riders ahead as Daniel Martin (Quickstep Floors) also joined Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) in trying to attack Froome.
At the front of the race, Barguil caught and passed the remnants of the day’s breakaway and held off the fast closing yellow jersey group by 20seconds. Behind, riders split across the road in the final three kilometres, working to limit their losses on the final summit finish of the Tour de France.
Tour de France – Stage 18 Results:
1. Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) 4:40:33
2. Darwin Atapuma (UAE Team Emirates) +0:20
3. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:20
9. Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) +0:59
Tour de France – General Classification after stage 18:
1. Chris Froome (Team Sky) 78:08:19
2. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:23
3. Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) +0:29
7. Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) +4:46