Tour de France: Stage 18 Results – Asgreen triumphs as breakaway was lucky

After yesterday’s highest climb which brought the decision for this year’s Tour de France, today’s stage was a welcome break for the sprinters as it was mostly flat with only two category four climbs placed in the middle of the race.

The course from Moutiers to Bourg-en-Bresse covered 185 kilometres and was made for two scenarios: a sprint finish or a breakaway group. It was the last chance before the final stage in Paris on Sunday for the sprinters.

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Victor Campenaerts, Pascal Eenkhoorn of Lotto DSTNY, Kasper Asgreen of Soudal Quick-Step and Jonas Abrahamsen of Uno-X Pro Cycling Team; BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS – Photo by Icon sport

Tour de France Stage 17 Report

This stage was flat for the most part. Only in the middle, there were two climbs to be mastered. The first came after 60 kilometres, the Côte de Chambéry-Haut with a length of 1,6 kilometres at 4,1%. This was followed with 80 kilometres left in the race by the Côte de Boissieu which was a 2,4 kilometres long climb with a 4,7% gradient. Even at this stage and with fatigue and exhaustion from the previous days, these climbs posed no problems for the sprinters.

The intermediate sprint after 132 kilometres was just a prelude of what was to come in the final.

What followed was an undulating profile that should have posed no problems for the likes of Jasper Philipsen and his competitors.

It was lively right from the start of the stage with a breakaway group consisting of three riders, Kasper Asgreen (Soudal-Quick-Step), Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X) and Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Dstny). They quickly established a lead of over a minute and a half. The rope they were on was kept short, very short indeed and the gap decreased soon after towards the 60 seconds mark.

On the Côte de Chambéry-le-Haut Jonas Abrahamsen was first, taking one point. This was the first highlight of this stage. He repeated the feat for the second climb, the Côte Boissieu, another category four climb.

There was what looked like a bullying attempt by Jasper Philipsen who blocked Pascal Eenkhorn from bridging the gap between the breakaway and the peloton.

All the while the gap shrank steadily.

It’s the final week of the Tour de France but there is also some cricket going on:

QOTD “there is so much cricket chat on this bus between the brit’s & aussies i now get cricket adverts in my feed” @johndegenkolb 🇩🇪 whose sitting drinking his Yorkshire tea…with Milk

— Matt Winston (@Mattw1nston) July 20, 2023

The intermediate sprint was an affair for Abrahamson but it was Eenkhorn who tried but Abrahamson had the better legs. In the peloton Philipsen rolls over first without being contested.

The Result of the intermediate sprint

1. Jonas Abrahamsen, 20 pts
2. Pascal Eenkhorn, 17 pts
3. Victor Campenaerts, 15 pts
4. Kasper Asgreen, 13 pts
At 1’:
5. Jasper Philipsen, 11 pts
6. Bryan Coquard, 10 pts
7. Jordi Meeus, 9 pts
8. Mathieu van der Poel, 8 pts
9. Nils Eekhoff, 7 pts
10. Jenthe Biermans, 6 pts
11. Nils Politt, 5 pts
12. Soren Kragh, 4 pts
13. Michael Gogl, 3 pts
14. Luke Durbridge, 2 pts
15. Silvan Dillier, 1 pt

Teamwork paid off

Towards the finish, the sprinter teams geared up to close the gap but it was difficult to make any progress as the front four really worked well together. The gap was always around one minute and some seconds.

However, the gap never went away even if it was as low as 30 seconds, it stuck and the four upfront worked hard to keep it that way. With five kilometres left the gap was down to 12 seconds which was halved at the final kilometre and it was down to mere metres as the pack chased Asgreen & Co.

It was Asgreen who timed his final sprint perfectly and won the stage ahead of his fellow escapee Pascal Eenkhorn.

Top five on stage 18

1. Kasper Asgreen
2. Pascal Eenkhorn
3. Jonas Abrahamsen
4. Jasper Philipsen
5. Mads Pedersen

General classification: top five after stage 18

1. Vingegaard 72hr 04min 39sec
2. Pogacar +7min 35sec
3. A. Yates +10min 45sec
4. C. Rodriguez +12min 01sec
5. S. Yates + 12min 19 sec

The Points Classification

1. Philipsen 352
2. Pedersen 202
3. Coquard 188
4. Pogacar 146
5. Meeus 117

The King of the Mountains

1. G. Ciccone 88
2. F. Gall 82
3. J. Vingegaard 81
4. N. Powless 58
5. T. Pogacar 49

Bar the final classification these rankings seem cast. With a few more climbs over the following days and a mountain finish on Saturday, we may be in for yet another change in the polka-dot jersey.

This was a stage that held a surprise for almost everyone. It will be encouraging others to go for a group tomorrow.

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