Arnaud Demare, meanwhile, is all smiles as he comes home more than 40 minutes down. It remains to be seen if he has avoided the time-cut. The smiles suggest that he probably hasn't - for surely he won't want to put himself through all that again tomorrow...
Carcassonne - Bagnères-de-Luchon
Tour de France - 24 July 2018
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Confirmation of today's top 10 in stage 16.
All done for the GC favourites who came home together just under nine minutes down on Alaphilippe. Bar a few seconds here and there - Zakarin, for example, was distanced on the descent - there won't be too many changes in the GC. Pierre Latour, who was in the break, will rise up a bit though.
Apparently Warren Barguil had a spill today. In any case, Alaphilippe increased his lead over his compariot in the polka dot standings to 49 points.
The likes of Dumoulin, Landa, Kruisjwijk, Roglic, Bardet, Quintana - all the big rivals for Thomas and Froome - are in the main pack now as they approach the finish.
Bernal, Kwiatkowski, Froome and Thomas are on the front now as the main pack goes under the 5-to-go banner. It looks like they have let Landa ride clear a bit, rather than take any risks. A reminder that Julian Alaphilippe has already won today's stage for his second win of the Tour.
We return to the action now and it's Landa who leads the group fo GC favourites down the descent - but he has the Sky train right on his wheel. There'll be no change in the overall standings today.
The remnants of the break are arriving in dribs and drabs now - but we're not intersted - we want to see what's happening with the GC favourites following that dig by Landa a few minutes ago...
Gorka Izagirre takes second place just ahead of Adam Yates, Bauke Mollema and Robert Gesink as the chasers come home around 20 seconds down.
Victory for France's Julian Alaphilippe of Quick-Step Floors!
Under the flamme rouge goes Alaphilippe, and he's already celebrating and milking the crowds. And why shouldn't he?
Yates crashed, for sure, but he would have heard in his earpiece that Alaphilippe was closing in, so we can't take anything away from the French tyro. Meanwhile, back with the big boys and Mikel Landa has attacked!
Gorka Izagirre is about to catch Yates now...
Yates is taking the corners so gingerly after that incident - and that means Alaphilippe will win this stage.
His elbow bloodied, Yates rides in pursuit of Alaphilippe - but his confidence is shot and he's now trailing the Frenchman by 10 seconds.
Yates lost his front wheel on a left-hand bend and went down on his shoulder. He's back up and on his bike - just as Alaphilippe comes around the same bend.
Just 15 seconds now... AND YATES HAS CRASHED!
The stage is Yates' provided he stays up and keeps his cool. He still has 20 seconds on Alaphilippe. Meanwhile, Fuglsang has been caught by the pack, as has Zakarin.
Adam Yates crests the summit of the Col du Portillon and then goes under the 10-to-go banner. Behind, Alaphilippe passes through about 20 seconds back. Back with the peloton, Jakob Fuglsang and Ilnur Zakarin have attacked but only have 20-odd metres on the Sky-led pack.
Alaphilippe dances clear of the chasers and he's cutting the gap on Yates. The Frenchman wants those polka dot points and a second stage win - and he is a very accomplished descender...
If we haven't seen any flares on the Tour today it's probably because ASO brought in a ban on flares over the rest day given all the trouble that we've seen these past two weeks. Those using them will be fined and could get up to a year in prison, apparently.
Yates' advantage is up to 25 seconds now - he's giving himself a really good chance of winning this stage, provided he can maintain this lead over the summit and then negotiate the sketchy descent to Bagneres-de-Luchon in one piece.
Back with the pack and it's Wout Poels and Michal Kwiatkowski who set tempo for Team Sky ahead of GC duo Thomas and Froome. They trail lone leader Yates by 9:30 so they're riding a very different type of race.
Yates has a decent advantage now as he moves within 2.5km of the summit. Alaphilippe is leading the chase - and rides clear with Gesink and Pozzovivo before the others bridge over.
Adam Yates ups the tempo and rides clear of the others. A day after signing a new contract with Mitchelton-Scott, the British rider is trying to salvage his Tour with a stage win in the Pyrenees.
Now Alaphilippe puts in a big effort to try and join the leaders. He manages to latch on in his bid to get points over the summit - remember, the first one over gets double points today, so that's 20.
Soler, Yates and Izagirre have joined Pozzovivo, Gesink and Mollema.
Meanwhile, the peloton has just hit the start of the final climb with Movistar and Astana heavily present on the front. It's showtime.
As Soler and Vanendert ride clear, Yates puts in a big unseated attack to join them and spark a flurry of activity in the wake of our three leaders: Gesink, Mollema and Pozzovivo.
Mollema joined the leading duo. The road is quite damp from the earlier rain but it's sunny now so perhaps the other side will be dry.
Now Robert Gesink rides clear alongside Domeinco Pozzovivo. Adam Yates leads the chase with Marc Soler, Gorka Izagirre and Bauke Mollema. Alaphilippe trying to latch on to them...
Michael Valgren attacks! The Dane, who was fourth on Sunday, is putting in a bid to make it three from three for Astana. He's followed by Rudy Molard - but there's some reaction behind.
Warren Barguil is dropped straight away. He's really not in the form he had at Sunweb.
The leaders are onto the Cat.1 Col du Portillon (8.3km at 7.1%). It has a steady gradient and shouldn't pose too many problems. I've gone down it on my bike, having climbed up from Bagneres-de-Luchon, and have to say that it's glorious when going down...
Back in the peloton, it's Movistar who now set the pace after Bennati, who was in the break, is swept up. They have Amador and Soler in this leading break, with Erviti and Rojas to help Valverde, Quintana and Landa. The gap comes down to 10 minutes ahead of the climb.
Got to feel for the last man on the road today...
One of these escapees will takle the stage today, surely. The gap to the peloton is still 11 minutes and although the race for GC has yet to get under way, I can't see the best riders of this break - the likes of Alaphilippe, Yates, Izagirre, Pozzovivo, Gesink, Frank, Soler etc - conceding that time over an 8km climb and an equally long descent.
The break has just entered Spain! Marc Soler is now on home soil - as are fellow escapee Gorka Izagirre. Can one of them win back on the other side of the border and the Portilhon/Portillon?
Those two groups have come together so we have 17 riders out ahead now - the ones I just mentioned, plus Andrey Amador (Movistar). The six chasers are Greg van Avermaet (BMC), Jon Izagirre (Bahrain Merida), Simon Geschke (Sunweb), Julien Bernard (Trek Segafredo), Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) and Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates). They are 1:25 down with the peloton now at 12:15 and poor Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) a distant 29:35 and surely en route to being ejected from the Tour.
Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) puts in a dig and is joined by Marc Soler (Movistar Team), about to enter his home region of Catalonia, and Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo). The chasers are Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing Team), Pierre Latour (AG2R-La Mondiale), Gorka Izagirre and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Valgren (Astana), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic), Mathias Frank (Ag2R-La Mondiale) and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal).
The leaders have completed the descent and will soon enter Spain for a brief 15km foray out of France that coincides with the final. It's coming back together with the Barguil chase group having made contact with the 12 leaders. Another group containing Greg van Avermaet and other escapees tailed off on the climb is 1:40 back. Gilbert was caught by the peloton after his earlier crash.
Alaphilippe has been joined by Muhlberger at the front of the race on the descent with a group of around 9 in pursuit: G Martin, Caruso, Mollema, Pozzovivo, Yates, G Izagirre, Gesink, Molard and Soler.
It was a fair drop for Gilbert earlier...
Julian Alaphilippe takes the 10pts over the summit ahead of Bauke Mollema and Damiano Caruso. More importantly, Warren Barguil will take no points and so the aggregate score for the day between the Frenchmen is 14-3. That puts Alaphilippe onto 106pts with Barguil on 72pts.
With the summit approaching, Alaphilippe has managed to dance up to the two leaders Caruso and Gesink. The others are closing in - including Yates, but no Barguil.
Mollema has joined the Alaphilippe chase group, which has reeled in Muhlberger.
And welcome proof that Gilbert managed to get back on his bike after that crash earlier.
The latest to attack is Gregor Muhlberger. Latour, Alaphilippe and Pozzovivo zip off in pursuit of the Austrian. The deficit to the two leaders is only around 15 seconds.
The chasing break is in a constant state of flux with small groups riding disparately in pursuit of the two leaders, Caruso and Gesink.
The break, which was initially 47-strong, has been whittled down to around 20 riders. They are: Latour, G Martin, BArguil, Mollema, Pozzovivo, the Izagirre brothers, Geschke, Yates, Bernard, Alaphilippe, Molard, Amador, Valgren, Frank, Durasel, Soler, Vanendert and Muhlberger.
Here was that very lucky escape for Philippe Gilbert....
Barguil has been dropped - he's clearly not in the same form that took him to two stage wins last year, plus the polka dot jersey. Gesink and Caruso ride clear with a 15 seconds lead, while Gilbert - after that scary crash over the parapet and into the trees - is struggling 6:45 back. The peloton is now 10:25 in arrears and Demare a huge 22:05 behind.
Meanwhile, the peloton went over the Portet-d'Aspet with a deficit of 7:22 on the break.
We're on to the Cat.1 Col de Mente (6.9km at 8.1%) and we have a trio of riders that have zipped clear of the break: Caruso, Gesink and Barguil.
That horror crash for Gilbert was a reminder that this descent was the same spot where the Italian Olympic champion Fabio Casartelli was killed in a fall during the 1995 Tour. A sobering moment all round.
Barguil, Amador, Caruso, Van Garderen, Durasek, Slagter, Gesink and Bernard have opened up a small gap on the other escapees.
That would have been scary for Gilbert - but also very scary for Barguil, Alaphilippe and the other chasing riders when coming round the corner and seeing the Belgian's bike on the side of the road...
CRASH: Philippe Gilbert's wheel locks on a bend and the Belgian disappears over the barrier and into a ravine, leaving his bike on the side of the road. Horrible crash. He wasn't going fast - his braking had taken off all the speed - but he couldn't do anything but plunge over head first. We're hoping he's ok.
Philippe Gilbert crests the summit of the Portet-d'Aspet to take the 5pts. Behind, it's a duel between Barguil and Alaphilippe, and it's the latter who comes off on top - he's just so much more explosive in the sprint - to pocket 3pts, with Barguil settling for 2pts. So the half-time score today is 4-3 to the man already in polka dots.
The sun is back out and so that early threat of rain has been put on hold.
Warren Barguil has come to the front of the break now to drive the pace - he'll want to reel in Gilbert before the top so he can mop up the polka dot points. Of course, that's clearly why the Belgian attacked before the climb - to protect his team-mate Alaphilippe's lead in the KOM standings.
Andrey Amador ups the tempo in the break to cause a few riders to be thrown out the back door - including Hayman and Laporte. Damiano Caruso then picks up the baton with a dig, which splits the break to pieces.
Gilbert has 45 seconds on the other escapees with the peloton now at nine minutes and poor Arnaud Demare a staggering 17 minutes in arrears.
We're onto the Cat.2 Col de Portet-d'Aspet (5.4km at 7.1%). Interestingly, Team Sky suffered here in stage 9 of the 2013 Tour, when Richie Porte (then 2nd on GC behind Chris Froome) was dropped and lost 10 minutes to leave Froome isolated. Could history repeat itself - this time with Froome, the second place rider on GC, assuming the role of Porte?
With the next climb, the Col de Portet d'Aspet just a few clicks away, Philippe Gilbert has thrown caution to the wind and zipped clear of the break. Which is odd.
It's worth pointing out that Romain Bardet is almost totally isolated back in the pack, with just one Ag2R-La Mondiale team-mate with him in Oli Naesen. The remaining three - Latour, Frank and Dillier - are in the break, and may be relied on a bit later.
Despite being a man down following the disqualification of Gianni Moscon on Sunday, Team Sky control the pace on the front of the pack. They're 7:30 down and so it's going to be another day of two races - with the break battling for the stage and the GC boys fighting for seconds behind. The rain has held off since that earlier shower but a few drops are falling now. It makes a change from that relentless sun - although it could make some of the descents fairly sketchy.
This is what the riders have in store in the next phase of this stage - the double climb of the Portet d'Aspet and the Col de Mente.
The gap grows to above six minutes now for the 47 leaders. Poor Arnaud Demare is another six minutes off the back of the pack. It'll be a struggle for him to get through today, let alone the entire Pyrenees.
It's Christophe Laporte of Cofidis who picks up the 20pts at Saint-Girons in the intermediate sprint. That puts the Frenchman up to 52 points - some 400 points behind Sagan and in 16th place in the green jersey standings.
We have that strange and rare thing coming up: an intermediate sprint without Peter Sagan. The world champion from Slovakia will not be adding to his tally of 452pts on the day that he dons the green jersey for the 100th time in his illustrious Tour career.
Simon Clarke (EF Education First), Silvan Dillier, Matthias Fränk and Pierre Latour (AG2R-La Mondiale), Simon Geschke, Soren Kragh and Edward Theuns (Team Sunweb), Warren Barguil, Maxime Bouet, Romain Hardy, Amäel Moinard and Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Samsic), Gorka Izagirre, Ion Izagirre and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), Adam Yates and Matthew Hayman (Mitchelton-Scott), Andrey Amador, Daniele Bennati and Marc Soler (Movistar Team), Damiano Caruso, Greg van Avermaet and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team), Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates), Julian Alaphilippe and Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors), Marcus Burghardt and Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Magnus Cort and Michael Valgren (Astana), Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tom-Jelte Slagter and Julien Vermote (Team Dimension Data), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Soudal), Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie), Bauke Mollema, Julien Bernand, Koen de Kort and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Christophe Laporte, Nicolas Edet and Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Marco Minaard and Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).
Ready for the full composition of the break in full, courtesy of letour.fr? Ok, brace yourselves... here it is.
Chasers Latour, Martin and Politt make the connection - so the best placed rider in this 47-man break is now that man Latour, the white jersey, who is 17:28 down on Thomas and one place ahead of van Avermaet on GC.
The best-placed rider in the break is the Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet who is, amazingly, in 15th place on GC - 18:22 down on Geraint Thomas. That's a superb Tour so far from the former yellow jersey.
The break is riding through the feed zone now. BMC have a great chance for the stage today with three solid riders there - Van Avermaet, Caruso and Van Garderen. Ditto Bahrain Merida who have the Izagirre brothers as well as Pozzovivo. Meanwhile, Movistar have Soler and Amador - an indication that they may be planning something later on for their leading trio of Landa, Quintana and Valverde... The gap is up to 4'30".
So, the lay of the land is like this at the moment:
- Leading 44-man group including polka dot rivals Alaphilippe and Barguil
- Latour, G Martin and Politt at 1:00
- Yellow/green jersey at 3:30
- Demare at 7:20
It's a huge 44-man group up ahead including some other riders we didn't name earlier, such as Gorka Izagirre, Pozzovivo, Geshke, Yates, Gilbert, Bernard, Gesink, Edet, Bouet, Amador, Stuyven, Frank, Cort, Navarro, Soler, Burghardt, Muhlberger, Clarke...
It looks like the peloton is going to let this one go: there's a collective comfort break - including from the yellow jersey - and that allows the gap to stretch out to over two minutes.
A few more riders trying to bridge over including white jersey rivals Pierre Latour and Guillaume Martin. Ag2R-La Mondiale's Latour leads compatriot Martin of Wanty-Groupe Gobert by 2:27 on GC in the youth standings.
The race has just passed through the Grotte de Mas d'Azil. Here's a photo of the last time the race went though from the legendary Tour photographer Graham Watson.
Finally, we have a significant break that has formed. The gap is small but we have 27 riders off the front: Van Avermaet, Caruso,, BArguil, Mollema, I Izagirre, Van Garderen, Alaphilippe, Moinard, Molard, Andersen, Valgren, Slagter, Durasek, Navarro, De Kort, Boasson Hagen, Boudat, Vermote, Dillier, Burghardt, Vanendert, Clarke, Bennati, Pichon, Hayman, Hardy and Laporte. Some unsurprising names in there, some what-the-hell-are-you-going-in-a-mountains-break names, too.
It wasn't only the protesting farmers who proved a handful for the French police this morning...
Crazy pace in this strung-out peloton as a potential move of 20-odd riders begins to open a gap...
No joy for Caruso, who is reeled in by a nervous peloton. Anthony Perez of Cofidis is driving the pace but it seems like nothing can stick today. Jelle Vanendert takes up the baton. His Lotto Soudal team are down to just four riders - Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Tomasz Marczynski and Vanendert - following the earlier withdrawals of Greipel, Benoot, Keukeleire and Sieberg.
Damiano Caruso (BMC) has ridden clear of the pack on a little hill. He's opened up a small gap over the peloton and will hope for reinforcements soon.
Some riders really struggling today - Arnaud Demare and Alexander Kristoff are off the back of the pack. We have the intermediate sprint coming up in about 40km before the three big climbs of the day.
Tim Declercq, who has been struggling (perhaps with illness?) since the start of the stage, has withdrawn. That's very sad. Funnily enough, I met his old history teacher from school yesterday while having a swim at a neighbours house (long story). How odd to have talked about him so much on the eve of his abandonment.
Thomas De Gendt - of course - has ridden clear of the pack in pursuit of a 20-man group that has formed. The Belgian catches then passes them - taking Barguil with him. But behind, it's all coming back together again!
Barguil and Alaphilippe go shoulder-to-shoulder in the sprint for the KOM point over the summit - and last year's polka dot jersey winner swings wide as if barged by the young pretender, but there really wasn't any contact there. In any case, it's Alaphilippe who takes the point over the top - and so it's 1-1 today between the two riders. The gap is back to 22pts in this intriguing battle between the two Frenchmen.
That attack by Pozzivivo was followed by a move by a BMC rider - and then the whole peloton wanted a piece of it. As a result, a strung-out pack has now caught those eight leaders. So we're going to have to go at it all over again!
A counter-attack comes from Domenico Pozzovivo as the Bahrain Merida rider zips clear of the peloton at the start of the climb. Meanwhile, mirroring the pint-sized Italian, the rangy Belgian Tim Declercq has once again been dropped by the pack.
The gap is only 25 seconds as the break hits the second climb of the day, the Cat.4 Cote de Pamiers (2.3km at 5.8%). With the top two riders in the battle for the polka dot jersey involved, there's a lot at stake on this climb - even if we're only talking a single KOM point...
Another four riders have managed to bridge over: Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Michael Valgren (Astana), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) and Gregory Muhlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe). So, the break have doubled in size. Will that give it double the chance of succeeding? Time will tell...
It's still a struggle for our four leaders, who's gap is not increasing. A handful of riders are now trying to bridge over...
Alaphilippe and Barguil are riding with Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) and Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) in this four-man move. The gap is up to 18 seconds but the peloton isn't giving it much leeway.
Julian Alaphilippe, the polka dot jersey, is now leading a four-man move that also includes his KOM rival Warren Barguil. Half a dozen or so riders are trying to bridge over. This could be the move which matters...
Italian stallion Daniel Oss rode clear in the rain but the Bora-Hansgrohe rider is back with the peloton now. It's all strung out and Tim Declercq is once again feeling the pinch off the back.
It's started to rain! The first shower in this year's Tour... and these roads have been dry for a long, long time, so they could get very slippery.
A reminder of why we're running late today with that farmer's strike holding things up just now.
It's not looking good for that four-man break, which has almost been reeled back in by the peloton.
Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) is trying to bridge over to the leading quartet and he's joined by Nikias Arndt (Sunweb) and Tom Skujins (Trek-Segafredo). But the peloton is having nothing of this - and the increase in tempo brings the leaders back within 20 seconds. They're not happy with the composition of the break and there's still a lot of will for riders to make it into today's break and make it a race within a race.
ATTACK: Thankfully, the race gets going straight away and we don't have hours of subdued riding following that enforced pause. We have four riders off the front: Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Stefan Keung (BMC), Franco Pellizotti (Bahrain Merida) and Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).
After a 15-minute break we're back under way as Christian Prudhomme waves his flag and gets the stage under way again.
Very unsavoury scenes on the Tour. Scores of riders are receiving medical attention for that pepper spray incident - most notably the green jersey of Peter Sagan.
The race has come to a halt after an enforced neutralisation. It seems that it wasn't fertiliser that got into the eyes of many riders but the pepper stray used by the gendarmes trying to disperse the protesting farmers. What a mess.
Heinrich Haussler (Bahrain Merida) is one of the riders who has been badly affected by the farmer's protest and the whatever happened in the aftermath there. He's rubbing his eyes, pouring water into them, and riding alongside the doctor's car.
CONTROVERSY: Farmers on strike have blocked the route with hay bales. The race manages to get by after some intervention from gendarmes - but it looks like some fertiliser or such like was sprayed on the peloton because many riders clearly have issue with their eyes.
That single KOM point over the top sees Barguil move within 21 points of his compatriot Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) at the top of the polka dot jersey standings. Alaphilippe has 92 points and Barguil is up to 71 points. Serge Pauwels was on 66pts but he's now out of the race so the next best placed rider is Geraint Thomas on 30pts. There are 37 points up for grabs today with double points available over the final climb, the Col du Portillon.
We're on the Cat.4 Cote de Fanjeaux (2.4km at 4.9%) and it's Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic) who darts clear, reels in a Dimension Data rider, and takes the solitary KOM point over the summit.
With the first of two Cat.4 leg-stretchers approaching there's a bit of activity as candidates for the breakaway make their case for inclusion. Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal) is currently driving the tempo.
A reminder that Geraint Thomas of Team Sky still leads this race with an advantage of 1:39 over his team-mate Chris Froome, the four-time champion. But any in-fighting between the two could be exploited by Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) who is 1:50 in arrears but is climbing solidly and has that time trial to look forward to in stage 20. Slovenia's Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Frenchman Romain Bardet (Ag2R-La Mondiale) complete the top five at 2:28 and 3:21 respectively.
Simon Clarke (EF Education First-Drapac) is the latest rider to open up a small gap - but the Australian doesn't take anyone with him and he's soon reeled in. Big fight to make the break today, as Tim Declercq struggles to hold on to the back of the peloton.
Tim Declercq (Quick-Step Floors) is struggling off the back with the peloton all strung out. Funnily enough, I met the Belgian's teacher from his old school back in Gent yesterday...
Belgian escape artist Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) has been involved in all the attacks so far - but nothing has stuck as yet.
It's a fast start with numerous skirmishes but nothing sticking... I half-lied about the rest-day withdrawals. There were two: Damian Howson (Mitchelton-Scott) and Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data). Although, to be fair, they actually called it quits after completing Stage 15 following their crash on the home straight. It was the Australian who hit the deck at speed, taking out the Belgian - who was forced out with a fractured elbow. So, that means we have 148 riders remaining from the initial field of 176.
They're off! Race director Christian Prudhomme waves the flag from the sunroof of his red Skoda Octavia - and the stage is under way.
It's another hot day in the south-west of France with the temperature already 28 degrees as the riders make their way through the neutral zone ahead of the official start. No withdrawals to report on over the rest day - just the disqualification of the Italian Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) after he swung an arm at Elie Gesbert during Sunday's stage...
At 218km, this long, slow-building behemoth of a stage could prove key as the weary riders hit the Pyrenees for the final phase of the race following the second rest day. Two small climbs break up the opening half through the plains before the race dips into Spain for a short stretch following back-to-back climbs. The race returns to France via the smooth but steep Col du Portillon while the finish comes after the last of three twisting and potentially treacherous descents. This is a day where going down could prove as important as going up. Here's the official profile.
Before yesterday's much-needed rest day, Denmark's Magnus Cort gave his Astana team their second win of the weekend with a well-crafted victory in Stage 15 of the Tour at Carcassonne as Geraint Thomas came through unscathed to retain the yellow jersey. Twenty-four hours after Omar Fraile took the win in Mende, Astana celebrated their second scalp in succession as Cort powered clear of Ion Izagirre (Bahrain Merida) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) in a cat-and-mice finale to the 181.5km stage from Millau. Read all about it here...
Hello and welcome back to live coverage of the final phase of the 2018 Tour de France. The riders have had their rest and now it's time to hit the mountains with three back-to-back(-to-back) stages in the Pyrenees...