Tour De France Stage 18 Blagnac – Brive-La-Gaillarde

21/07/2012   |   Posted by jeremy

Stage 18 Blagnac – Brive-la-Gaillarde  222.5km.

Stage 18 was the second longest stage of the Tour at 222.5km. With rolling countryside and a lumpy bit in the middle there were four category 4 climbs.  I don’t think this would bother anyone after the Pyrenees.  Bradley Wiggins needed to keep a cool head and just stay in the main bunch and keep himself upright.

There was the usual breakaway, with riders in it from fourteen teams. To start with the Peloton were not interested in chasing this lot down. As they headed for a motorway section of the stage a very large black dog got in the way and brought down at least five riders. These included Philippe Gilbert of BMC, who was looking to have it out with the dog owner before being restrained and Denis Menchov who received quite a deep cut to his left arm. All the riders went on their way with Menchov being treated by the doctor as he went along. We have seen this before in previous Tours. Accidents do happen but why would you take a dog to see bike racing.

With 45km to go the breakaway were being pulled back by the Peloton and the gap had shortened to 1 m 15s. On the Cote de Souillac it was David Millar of Garmin- Sharp who made a move on the rest of the breakaway, but then Yukiya Arashiro of Europcar also went and he was followed by Rui Costa of Movistar. Arashiro took the first place over the summit of the climb. This was the last chance for the teams to make their mark on the Tour by trying to get a stage win before they reached Paris on Sunday. This is why the breakaway was large and also why the rest of the field were by now determined to catch them.

At 15km to go the Peloton was moving fast, Sky were starting to get themselves organised like they did when they were putting Mark Cavendish in the frame to get a stage win. The breakaway now only had a 30 second lead, but this was disappearing fast. Meanwhile at the front it was Alexander Vinokourov of Astana who was doing the work to stay away.

As the riders came into the outskirts of Brive, it was starting to spit with rain making the Peloton cautious as they negotiated the roundabouts. They were all passed them safely and the tension was high as this stage could be anyone’s race. There were still four riders at the front of the breakaway desperately trying to stay ahead but with just 2km to go it looked like they might do it.

 At the head of the yellow jersey group was the yellow jersey himself, leading the Sky train with Mark Cavendish in third position. With 1km to go Wiggins pulled off the front to leave Edvald Boasson Hagen as the lead out man for Cav. Nicolas Roche was at the head of the race riding flat out for a victory but then Cav launched himself from a long way back.

It was an amazing sight; his sudden turn of speed made everyone else look like they were in slow motion as he blasted past them and cleared them by some margin to take the stage win, his second of this Tour and by the look on his face, one of the best.

 

Rank

Name

Team

Time

1

Bradley Wiggins

Team Sky

83hrs 22mins 18secs

2

Chris Froome

Team Sky

+2mins 05secs

3

Vincenzo Nibali

Liquigas-Cannondale

+2mins 41secs

4

Jurgen Van Den Broeck

Lotto-Belisol

+5mins 53secs

5

Tejay Van Garderen

BMC Racing

+8mins 30secs

6

Cadel Evans

BMC Racing

+9mins 57secs

7

Haimar Zubeldia

RadioShack-Nissan

+10mins 11secs

8

Pierre Rolland

Europcar

+10mins 17secs

9

Janez Brajkovic

Astana

+11mins 00secs

10

Thibaut Pinot

FDJ-BigMat

+11mins 46secs

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