Tour de France Stage 18 Report

July 18, Stage 18: Gap – l’Alpe d’Huez 172.5km

Riblon wins Tour de France queen stage to l’Alpe d’Huez

Article Content from Report By: Peter Cossins Published: July 18

Video Recap from

Van Garderen overhauled in tense finale

It’s taken two-and-a-half weeks, but France finally claimed its first stage win of this year’s Tour de France – and on the greatest cycling stage of all – when Ag2r La Mondiale’s Christophe Riblon took a sensational solo victory at Alpe d’Huez.

After being dropped by BMC’s Tejay van Garderen on the Alpe’s early ramps as the break of the day tackled the famous ascent for the second time, Riblon gradually clawed back a deficit of 45 seconds on the second half of the climb and finally bridged up to the struggling American with just two kilometres remaining.

Riblon didn’t hesitate before attacking hard on van Garderen’s right. Although Riblon kept looking back to make sure of his advantage, van Garderen, who had looked outstandingly strong all day but was by now almost totally spent, was completely unable to respond. The Frenchman began his celebrations before swinging around the final left-hander up to the line, where French fans acclaimed him with huge roars.

France’s first success of this 100th Tour was also Riblon’s first victory since he won at Ax 3 Domaines in the 2010 Tour. His most difficult moment occurred on the much-debated descent off the Col de Sarenne, where a shower added a dangerous sheen to the patched up surface.

Riding with Cannondale’s Moreno Moser after van Garderen’s chain had unshipped and temporarily halted him, Riblon hit a damp patch on a tight left-hander and went straight through the bend into the shrubbery at the side of the road. Fortunately, he stayed upright and was quickly under way again. Ultimately, the doggedness he’s shown throughout this race paid off.

“We’ve been trying to win a stage since the start of the Tour de France. It’s been a real fight. This is the fourth time I’ve been in the break,” said Riblon. “With five kilometres to go I thought I’d have to accept second place, but my directeur sportif told me to go for it, that van Garderen was going to crack. When I saw van Garderen, I thought: ‘It’s Alpe d’Huez. I saw this climb at the Tour de France when I was 10 years old.’ I thought I’d lost it. But it’s incredible to have won.”

Asked about the loss of team leader Jean-Christophe Peraud, who crashed out in yesterday’s time trial, Riblon said, “In our team meeting this morning we said that we had to put the bad luck we’ve had at the Tour behind us. It was a pity we lost our GC hopes yesterday, but we had to go out and do something. We had to get to the front and go for the stage win so that we can walk away from the Tour with our heads high.”

Behind the duel between Riblon and van Garderen, the battle for the yellow jersey was just as absorbing. Alberto Contador’s Saxo-Tinkoff team were on the offensive throughout the stage, but the Spaniard was unable to respond when Team Sky’s race leader Chris Froome attacked on the lower slopes of Alpe d’Huez. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) did get across to the yellow jersey. When Contador failed to respond, Richie Porte also scampered across to this trio, and how Froome needed him higher on the climb.

The race leader looked comfortable until, 5km from home, he started signalling for his team car. Porte eased off from pace-making duties to confer with his leader, then dropped back to the team car to pick up a gel and a bottle.

With Froome looking weak for the first time in this race, Quintana and Rodríguez rode hard to press home their advantage. Both riders gained a minute on the Briton, who subsequently received a 20-second time penalty for receiving food outside permitted areas. Froome’s consolation was that he still gained a minute on Saxo’s Contador and Roman Kreuziger.

“There was no huge setback. I think myself and Richie were OK. Richie was definitely better than I was today,” Froome revealed. “I was running out of sugars and so had to ask him to go back and get some from the car.

“We had a mechanical problem with the car so it wasn’t with us at the bottom of the last climb, that was the problem. I was just getting in [to the finish] the best I could in the last few kilometres. I don’t know if getting something from the car made any difference really.”

The race leader then tipped Quintana to finish in the top three in Paris. “Contador and Kreuziger were our biggest threat going into today, but it was good to hear on the radio that they dropped back. It was good for Quintana to get some time today. I definitely think he’s going to finish on the podium of the Tour,” he said.

How it unfolded

The stage started frantically on the climb of the Col de Manse, as Saxo-Tinkoff riders tried from the off to send riders up the road with a view to them providing support later in the stage for Contador and Kreuziger. Every Sky rider had to ride hard to respond, including Froome, who was forced to chase after Contador had attempted to go clear.

The pace in the bunch eased when a nine-man break formed. In addition to van Garderen, Riblon and Moser, Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), Lars Boom (Belkin), Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Leopard), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Arnold Jeannesson ( and Andrey Amador (Movistar) were in the move.

Their advantage went out to more than four minutes as they climbed the Ramp du Motty, where Saxo-Tinkoff went on the attack again. This time Sergio Paulinho and Nicolas Roche did manage to get clear, although the Saxo pair never managed to make it up to the front group and fell back to the peloton the first time up Alpe d’Huez.

Going through the intermediate sprint in Bourg d’Oisans, the nine leaders had extended their advantage to eight minutes over the Sky-led peloton. Once on the climb, van Garderen and Riblon eased away from the other riders in the front group, with Moreno not far behind this pair.

Sky kept a tight rein on the peloton as it went up the Alpe for the first time, Ian Stannard, Kanstantsin Siutsou and David López each doing long pulls on the front. The only riders to escape from Sky’s grip were Europcar duo Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland, Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel), Vacansoleil’s Wout Poels and a resurgent Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard).

Sky’s attempts to maintain a steady pace down the Sarenne were thwarted when Roman Kreuziger went to the front, opened a gap and, moments later, Contador accelerated after his teammate. Clearly hoping they could put Sky and Froome under pressure on the technical descent, they opened a gap of 20 seconds, but were reeled in with Schleck’s group when the road opened out, heading back towards Bourg d’Oisans.

Up ahead, van Garderen and Riblon once again proved too strong for Moser on the initial steep ramps of Alpe d’Huez. The American then pressed again, leaving the Frenchman to ride at his own pace and, it seemed, for second place. The BMC rider, who’s of Dutch descent, got a fantastic reception as he went through Dutch corner, but began to fade soon after. This was Riblon’s moment.

Encouraged by his director, the Frenchman responded fantastically, giving France a much-awaited victory on the most eagerly awaited stage of the Tour.

General classification after stage 18
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 71:02:19
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:05:11
3 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:05:32
4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:05:44
5 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 0:05:58
6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:08:58
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:09:33
8 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:14:26
9 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:14:38
10 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:14:39
11 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:14:56
12 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 0:16:24
13 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:19:18
14 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard 0:19:56
15 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:24:13
16 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha 0:30:05
17 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:30:45
18 Andy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack Leopard 0:31:19
19 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 0:34:22
20 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:37:42
21 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard 0:40:08
22 Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Lampre-Merida 0:41:05
23 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:41:13
24 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:42:09
25 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:43:48
26 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:44:24
27 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:44:46
28 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:45:41
29 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:46:16
30 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:46:39
31 Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:49:56
32 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 0:50:56
33 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) 0:51:59
34 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard 0:58:47
35 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:59:09
36 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar 0:59:55
37 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1:02:13
38 Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 1:06:51
39 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 1:07:22
40 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard 1:09:21
41 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha 1:13:01
42 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 1:13:50
43 Maxime Mederel (Fra) Sojasun 1:16:00
44 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Sojasun 1:17:49
45 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 1:24:11
46 Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 1:24:16
47 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol 1:24:20
48 Laurent Didier (Lux) RadioShack Leopard 1:26:05
49 Arthur Vichot (Fra) 1:26:41
50 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida 1:26:50
51 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano 1:28:27
52 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 1:28:28
53 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar Team 1:29:17
54 Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 1:31:20
55 Alexandre Geniez (Fra) 1:31:36
56 Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha 1:32:01
57 Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar 1:32:35
58 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 1:32:53
59 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard 1:33:40
60 Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 1:36:52
61 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team 1:38:10
62 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp 1:41:15
63 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 1:41:16
64 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp 1:41:37
65 Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol 1:47:22
66 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) 1:48:24
67 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge 1:50:54
68 Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida 1:52:02
69 Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack Leopard 1:53:39
70 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge 1:54:08
71 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team 1:54:52
72 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky Procycling 1:56:48
73 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 1:57:36
74 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 1:58:43
75 Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 1:58:48
76 Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 1:58:59
77 Julien El Fares (Fra) Sojasun 2:00:41
78 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team 2:00:54
79 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 2:01:30
80 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team 2:03:08
81 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano 2:03:44
82 Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 2:04:14
83 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 2:04:37
84 Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 2:06:24
85 Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 2:07:49
86 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 2:07:50
87 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 2:09:12
88 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 2:09:18
89 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 2:11:56
90 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team 2:12:17
91 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 2:12:22
92 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky Procycling 2:12:56
93 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team 2:13:21
94 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro Cycling 2:15:26
95 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 2:15:30
96 Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 2:15:32
97 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 2:15:39
98 Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar 2:16:27
99 Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha 2:16:47
100 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 2:18:20
101 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 2:19:57
102 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 2:21:20
103 Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Sojasun 2:22:48
104 David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp 2:23:12
105 Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team 2:24:48
106 Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 2:25:01
107 Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha 2:25:49
108 Jean-Marc Marino (Fra) Sojasun 2:26:37
109 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Sojasun 2:26:56
110 Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp 2:27:10
111 Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 2:27:15
112 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 2:27:41
113 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack Leopard 2:27:50
114 Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun 2:29:02
115 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol 2:29:03
116 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano 2:30:59
117 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling 2:33:38
118 Brice Feillu (Fra) Sojasun 2:36:26
119 Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 2:40:42
120 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 2:41:09
121 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 2:42:45
122 Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Katusha 2:43:26
123 Elia Favilli (Ita) Lampre-Merida 2:45:01
124 Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team 2:46:38
125 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol 2:47:24
126 Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 2:50:04
127 Jérémy Roy (Fra) 2:50:13
128 David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar 2:51:54
129 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 2:52:45
130 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 2:54:26
131 Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano 2:54:42
132 Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 2:55:00
133 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol 2:56:59
134 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida 2:57:19
135 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 2:57:26
136 Romain Sicard (Fra) Euskaltel-Euskadi 2:57:30
137 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 2:57:46
138 Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 2:57:50
139 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha 2:58:00
140 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 2:58:24
141 Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha 2:58:34
142 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Sharp 2:59:28
143 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) 2:59:49
144 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 3:00:14
145 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky Procycling 3:01:22
146 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling 3:02:04
147 Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar 3:02:35
148 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 3:03:03
149 Boy van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 3:03:28
150 Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano 3:03:37
151 Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano 3:05:08
152 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling 3:06:49
153 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 3:07:14
154 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 3:09:11
155 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 3:09:45
156 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida 3:09:49
157 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 3:11:17
158 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 3:11:54
159 Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol 3:12:26
160 Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar 3:12:40
161 Albert Timmer (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano 3:14:15
162 Brian Vandborg (Den) Cannondale Pro Cycling 3:14:21
163 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 3:15:03
164 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 3:15:34
165 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol 3:15:43
166 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 3:17:48
167 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano 3:18:18
168 Frederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol 3:20:34
169 Jerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar 3:22:18
170 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Sojasun 3:26:00
171 Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 3:27:54
172 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 3:29:59
173 Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge 3:31:56
174 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 3:32:08
175 Tom Veelers (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano 3:34:56




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