Michal Kwiatkowski finishes arm-in-arm with team-mate Richard Carapaz to claim his first Tour de France stage

Richard Carapaz and Michal Kwiatkowski — Michal Kwiatkowski finishes arm-in-arm with Ineos team-mate Richard Carapaz to claim maiden Tour de France stage
Michal Kwiatkowski (right) crosses the line with team-mate Richard Carapaz as the Pole claims his first ever stage win at a grand tour on a day when Ineos Grenadiers bounced back in some style Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Michal Kwiatkowski won stage 18 of the Tour de France and Richard Carapaz moved into the polka dot jersey as Ineos Grenadiers set about salvaging their race following the withdrawal of Egan Bernal.

The Ineos Grenadiers duo were the final two survivors of what had been a 32-man breakaway on the 175km stage from Meribel to La Roche-sur-Foron.

Carapaz had been battling Sunweb's Marc Hirschi for mountain points as both riders looked to overhaul Tadej Pogacar in the category, but a crash for Hirschi on a descent midway through the stage put Carapaz in the driving seat, and he now leads the category by two points from Pogacar.

The pair made the approach to La Roche-sur-Foron deep in conversation, patting each on the back under the flamme rouge, before Kwiatkowski crossed the line first to give the former world champion his first grand tour stage win.

Primoz Roglic kept the yellow jersey as the main group of contenders crossed the line a little under two minutes later, retaining his 57-second advantage over Pogacar who finished alongside him.

But the last hors categorie climb of the Tour — the Montée du Plateau des Glières — did have its say on the general classification as Adam Yates slipped back to lose his hold on fifth place, while Richie Porte had to pace his way back after a puncture to retain fourth overall.

Yates dropped to seventh overall by the end of the stage as Spanish duo Mikel Landa and Enric Mas moved up to fifth and sixth respectively.

The win was an emotional one for the popular Kwiatkowski, who has sacrificed his considerable talents in the service of others for several years but got his reward here.

"That was some day," the 2014 world champion said. "I can't describe how grateful I am to the whole team and to Richard. It was an incredible day for us and I will never forget that.

"I've had some nice moments in cycling but that was a new experience. I've got goosebumps for the last I don't know how many kilometres because I knew the gap is so big that we're going to make it and we both really enjoyed the last kilometres.

"I think we're going to celebrate big time tonight," the 30-year-old Pole added.
PA

Van Aert takes third spot . . .

 . . . to take the final bonus seconds, ensuring Jumbo-Visma team-mate and overall race leader Primoz Roglic's advantage over Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) remains exactly the same as it was when they set off almost five hours ago — 57sec.

For his and his team's troubles, Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) moves up two places on general classification to fifth, while another Spaniard, Enric Mas (Movistar) shifts from eighth to sixth, replacing Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling) who will start stage 19 in seventh and eighth respectively.

Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) is the new leader in the mountains classification, while Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Pogacar retained their respective jerseys — the green and white garments — as leaders in the points and young rider classifications. Movistar still lead the team classification.

Kwiatkowski wins stage 18 at the Tour de France!

Michal Kwiatkowski wins the stage, the first of his career. The Pole almost crawls over the line, arm in arm with team-mate Richard Carapaz. What a thoroughly deserved stage win that is for Kwiatkowski, a former world champion and winner of multiple classics — Amstel Gold, Milan-Sanremo, Strade Bianche — who has ridden seven Tours de France, four of those in the service of Team Sky / Ineos. He is the ultimate Team Sky-Ineos man: a rider who has sacrificed the opportunity to build a much, much bigger palmarès in favour of, well, securing his financial future.

1km to go

Richard Carapaz and Michal Kwiatkowski go beneath the flamme rouge. A quick chat on the radio back to the Ineos Grenadiers team car to let them know they will be home soon, a pat on the back for each other and they roll towards finishing the line side-by-side.

Richard Carapaz and Michal Kwiatkowski edge towards the finishing line Credit: EPA

A lone idiot breaches security, attempting to run towards the pair — I think he is the celebratory type of idiot, rather than the threatening type — but let's not worry about him. Look at them, what an enduring image this is.

2.5km to go

Calm before the storm. Whoever wins this stage, it has been a perfectly executed stage from Ineos Grenadiers, what a way to bounce back. Just 24 hours ago all of the talk — well, some of the talk from some people who should probably know a little better — was of the team's capitulation. Along with the Daniel Martínez and Soren Kragh Andersen stage wins earlier in the Tour, this win stands up with some of the best. Ineos Grenadiers, they can be quite entertaining when they are not chasing yellow jerseys.

4km to go

It's two-up time trial time for Inoes Grenadiers who lead the stage through Richard Carapaz and Michal Kwiatkowski. Down the road, Wout van Aert manages to get back into the chasing group.

7km to go

All three Bahrain-McLaren riders are on the front of the chasing group, 3min 25sec behind the Inoes Grenadiers pairing of Richard Carapaz and Michal Kwiatkowski. The two almost touch elbows as they appear to have a brief chat. Who is going to take the stage win? Will they be under team orders, or are they going to battle it out between themselves?

8.5km to go

The maillot jaune's group containing Pello Bilbao, Mikel Landa, Primoz Roglic, Sepp Kuss, Tadej Pogacar. Miguel Ángel López, Enric Mas, Tom Dumoulin, Richie Porte, Damiano Caruso , sweeps up Marc Hirschi. Only Richard Carapaz and Michal Kwiatkowski stand between these riders and the finish line, meaning that the leading rider from this group can take two bonus seconds should they complete the stage in third place.

11km to go

Richie Porte is about to bridge over to the Mikel Landa group. Heartache for the Spaniard. Porte was helped by Tom Dumoulin who himself may be thinking about his own position in the general classification — he started the day in 10th overall.

12km to go

Pello Bilbao has now dropped back to join Mikel Landa, the Spaniards controlling the pace on the front, but they are getting no help from Primoz Roglic, Sepp Kuss, Tadej Pogacar. Miguel Ángel López and Enric Mas are riding in the wheels.

13km to go

Richie Porte is gaining time on Mikel Landa. Richard Carapaz and Michal Kwiatkowski are minutes away from winning the stage.

14km to go

Primoz Roglic places a hand on the back of Tadej Pogacar, the pair chatting, suggesting the Slovenians are in no rush to push on here. Unlike Enric Mas who is desperate to push on. Further back, Richie Porte is hammering it off the descent, gaining valuable seconds on Mikel Landa. Will that earlier effort be undone by Roglic and Pogacar?

15km to go

Sepp Kuss, by the way, has bridged over to the group containing Primoz Roglic, Miguel Ángel López, Tadej Pogacar, Mikel Landa and Enric Mas. Richie Porte has dropped down the virtual standing today, as has Rigoberto Uran, while Mikel Landa is up to fourth. But what will happen between now and the finishing line?

17.5km to go

Pello Bilbao appears to be soft-pedalling, waiting for Bahrain-McLaren team-mate Mikel Landa. 

20km to go — as it stands

Ineos Grenadiers team-mates Richard Carapaz and Michal Kwiatkowski lead the stage.

Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren) trails by 1min 58sec.

Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) is at 3min 17sec

Group containing Primoz Roglic, Miguel Ángel López, Tadej Pogacar, Mikel Landa and Enric Mas at 4min 57sec.

Richie Porte 5min 30sec

22.5km to go

Enric Mas  gestures to the rest of a small group containing Primoz Roglic, Miguel Ángel López, Tadej Pogacar and Mikel Landa requesting they all work together, now onto the descent. Richie Porte has lost 3osec following that puncture, that may see him drop to below Landa on general classification as it stands.

25km to go

Primoz Roglic rides the rest of the group off his wheel as the road rises up, a number of these riders struggled with the uneven surface. Not the race leader. 

Porte punctures

Richard Carapaz and Michal KwiatkowskI (Trek-Segafredo) has had a puncture on this gravel road, but using tubular tyres he is able to continue riding until he gets a bike change. The Aussie loses time on his rivals. Nightmare.

Richie Porte was delayed after puncturing on the 1,800-metre stretch of gravel road  Credit: GETTY IMAGES

29.5km to go

Richard Carapaz takes a bottle from a roadside helper on the rough dusty road, Michal Kwiatkowski is unable to grab one. Tadej Pogacar takes over on the front of the general classification group just before it hits the Strade Bianche-type stretch of road.

Richard Carapaz and Michal KwiatkowskI tackle the uneven gravel section Credit: GETTY IMAGES

30km to go

Enric Mas (Movistar) briefly rides off the front of the Jumbo-Visma group, but the Wout van Aert-powered peloton is in no mood to gift the young Spaniard an inch of the road.

30.5km to go

Richard Carapaz summits the Montée du Plateau des Glières first, taking the lead in the mountains classification. Onto the dusty roads the Ineos Grenadiers pair march on. Mikel Landa is now the third group, albeit a one-man group, on the road. 

31.5km to go

Mikel Landa has ridden though a number of the chasers, including Thomas De Gendt. Back in the maillot jaune's group, Richie Porte is hanging on, as is Miguel Ángel López and Tadej Pogacar. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), however, was dropped a few moments ago.

32km to go

Mikel Landa gains over a minute on Rigoberto Urán. At the head of the race, Ineos Grenadiers team-mates Richard Carapaz and Michal Kwiatkowski are working together, surely about to take the lead in the mountains classification, but can they hold on for the stage win? And if so, will Kwiatkowski be claiming his maiden stage win in a grand tour?

Urán is dropped! 

Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling) falls off the back of the maillot jaune's group, unable to hold the wheels as Jumbo-Visma drive the pace following Mikel Landa's lone move. Urán  started the day in sixth place overall, so Landa may have just leapfrogged him.

34km to go

Mikel Landa is out of his saddle, the Basque has managed to put around 15sec into the maillot jaune's group. Landa is not necessarily attempting to take the yellow jersey here — though he would love to, obviously — but also put pressure on his other general classification rivals. He started to day seventh overall, and should he manages to stay away will be hoping to leapfrog his way up the standings.

35km to go — Landa attacks!

Wout Poels and his Bahrain-McLaren team-mate Mikel Landa put in a slow-motion attack — neither are especially explosive riders, but instead like to roll over in the big gears — and have put some time into the maillot jaune's group. Further up the road, Landa's team-mate Pello Bilbao falls off the back of the leading group, leaving two Ineos Grenadiers riders out in front. 

36km to go — here we go

The leading trio have started to climb the Montée du Plateau des Glières which, as you can see is short but very, very steep. It pitches up to a gradient of 15 per cent midway up, most of the climb has a gradient that goes well into double digits. On what has been a very hard day for the riders, that's going to hurt.

Once over the top, there's a fast descent, followed by a short uncategorised climb, and then another drop towards the finish which kicks up a little, as seen below. 

Jumbo-Visme et al trail the stage leaders by almost nine minutes, Marc Hirschi hangs at around 1min 20sec.  

40km to go

Stage leaders edge closer to the start of the final hors catégorie climb in this year's race, the six kilometre Montée du Plateau des Glières that features a fairly long stretch — 1,800 metres, to be precise — of gravel. Riders and their team mechanics will be nervous, nobody wants to pick up a puncture at an inopportune time. Fingers crossed.

50km to go

Marc Hirschi is losing more and more time, trailing the stage leaders now by over a minute.

55km to go

As expected, Richard Carapaz goes over the summit of the Col des Aravis first to scoop up another 10 points in the mountains. As result, the Ineos Grenadiers rider leagfrogs Marc Hirschi, who was fourth, and up into third place ahead of Miguel Ángel López. 

All fairly calm back in the group containing the maillot jaune and the rest of the general classification contenders. Unless there are any attacks here today, the last genuine chance for anybody to make advances will come during Saturday's time trial up La Planche des Belles Filles

58km to go

Marc Hirschi trails by 52sec; Richard Carapaz just moments away from possibly climbing to third in the virtual standings in the mountains classification.

61.5km to go

Nicolas Edet is dropped for a second time, while Marc Hirschi who crashed earlier has not given up the chase. The Swiss may require a bike change, but with the leading trio going at a decent pace he just cannot afford to stop and lose any further time. There are two things being competed for here right now: Richard Carapaz and Hirschi will be thinking about both the stage win, and the mountains classification, but the Swiss has his work cut out if is going to contest either following that spill.

65km to go 

Nicolas Edet manages to regain contact with the led group, Marc Hirschi trails at 52sec with the maillot jaune's group almost another five minutes down the road. As it stands, if you were a betting person then you would have to be thinking about backing Ineos Grenadiers for the stage win. Could Richard Carapaz take control of the mountains classification and Michal Kwiatkowski claim the first grand tour stage win of his career? What a way to bounce back from the disappointment of Egan Bernal abandoning the race on Wednesday.

68km to go — Hirschi in no man's land

Marc Hirschi has lost almost a minute on the leading trio, but the Swiss is back on his bike chasing on.

Hirschi crashes! 

The Swiss sensation that is Marc Hirschi hit the deck after his front wheel appeared to go from under him as the road veered around to the left just beyond the summit of the Col des Saisie. Unsurprisingly, Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers)​ are in no mood to sit up and wait for the Sunweb rider.

80km to go — Hirschi outsprints Carapaz 

Richard Carapaz cheekily darts around the opposite side of a roundabout to his co-breakaway riders to steal a few metres from Marc Hirschi just below the summit of the Col des Saisies. The Sunweb rider, however, soon jumped onto his wheel before outsprinting him with ease to add a further two points to his tally in the mountains, putting him within three points of Miguel Ángel López (Astana) who currently fills the third berth in that competition.

85km to go

Just 2km from the summit of the third categorised climb of the day, further down the road Thomas De Gendt is doing the lion's share of the work. None of his co-riders appear too keen on helping the Belgian out.

86km to go

Nicolas Edet is dropped by the leading group as it edges towards the summit of the Col des Saisies.

88km to go — as it stands

Five-man break leads maillot jaune by 5min

Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers).

Group containing nine riders trail by 1min 15sec

Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-McLaren), Dario Cataldo (Movistar), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Simon Geschke (CCC), Jesús Herrada (Cofidis), Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Nans Peters (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Luis León Sánchez (Astana) and Carlos Verona (Movistar).

Five more are another minute down the road

Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers), Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ) and Nicholas Roche (Sunweb).

Maillot jaune is in group of around 90 riders, containing all of the remaining general classification contenders. 

Green jersey group at 9min+

Hirschi: As long as I breathe, I attack 

Ok, the Swiss did not say that, but he may as well have repeated the old Bernard Hinault quote while talking ahead of today's stage.  

"I will try to go in the break. I think it's also like the last chance," Marc Hirschi told the Tour website. "I hope the GC [general classification] guys will let the break go, and I hope the legs are still good. I'm tired. Yesterday was pretty tough, also mentally it was a hard day. Long day. And then we also slept at altitude, so it's harder to recover. But I hope the others are as tired as me, then I will see what I can do.

"Whenever I'm in the break, I will use the descents also to increase the gap. I mean when you're in the break, you have to use everything you can to take time, and for sure I will also use the descents."

The five-man break leads by 4min 53sec with 92km remaining.

95km to go

Nairo Quintana(Arkéa-Samsic) is spotted near the rear of the race, the Colombian that arrived at this year's Tour de France with big hopes that went up in smoke following a crash during last Friday's stage, chats with the race director as the road rise up this 14.5km long Col des Saisies. Jumbo-Visma continue to pull on the front of the peloton.

100km to go

The five-man group on the front — Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) — are working well together, riding through-and-off, as they approach the beginning of the category two Col des Saisies.

Michal Kwiatkowski sits on the front of a five-man breakaway, ahead of Nicolas Edet (left to right, Richard Carapaz, Pello Bilbao and Marc Hirschi (out of shot, behind Bilbao) Credit: GETTY IMAGES

105km to go

Marc Hirschi adds another two points to his mountains classification account, cresting the category three Côté de la Route des Villes ahead of Richard Carapaz. I can see these two battling all the way to the final climb today in their quest to wrest the polka-dot jersey off the narrow shoulders of overnight leader Tadej Pogacar.

108km to go

Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-McLaren), Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers) and Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) are dropped by the second group on the road. Back in the bunch, Dan Martin (Israel Start-up Nation) is spotted riding off the back of the group containing the maillot jaune.

110km to go

Marc Hirschi is looking fresh and wanting to push on, but Richard Carapaz sits up waiting for Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Michal Kwiatkowski to bridge over. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and also make the junction around 2.5km from the summit of the Côté de la Route des Villes, the second of five categorised climbs that punctuate this stage.

117.5km to go — and then there were two

Having gone over the top of the Cormet de Roselend first, Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) put some space between themselves — around 20sec — and the breakaway group as the pair descend at speed. The peloton is a further 2min 40sec down the road.

Hirschi pips Carapaz to the points

Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) opens up his sprint around 100 metres or so shy of the Cormet de Roselend's summit, but the Ecuadorian is jumped by Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) who adds 10 points to his tally in the mountains classification, a result that propels the Swiss up to fourth, 25 points adrift of competition leader Tadej Pogacar.

New-look lead group

Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-McLaren), Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers), Dario Cataldo (Movistar), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Simon Geschke (CCC), Jesús Herrada (Cofidis), Marc Hirschi (Sunweb), Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Nans Peters (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Nicholas Roche (Sunweb), Luis León Sánchez (Astana), Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ) and Carlos Verona (Movistar) now lead the stage, their advantage growing to a shade below two minutes.

132km to go — Caruso bridges over 

Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-McLaren) makes it over to the leading group, 1min 45sec up the road from the maillot jaune.

135km to go

A number of riders have fallen off the pace of the leading group, while further back EF Pro Cycling have sent Hugh Carthy off up the road. All very chaotic  at the moment and difficult to work out who is where on the road. One thing is certain, though, is that Ineos Grenadiers have numbers in the breakaway, while Marc Hirschi is up there too. 

Greipel abandons the Tour

German sprinter André Greipel has got off his bike, becoming the first Israel Start-up Nation rider to abandon.

Caruso slips through the net

Hello, what's this? Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-McLaren) has escaped off the front of the bunch. I'm guessing the Italian is not thinking about going for personal glory here, but instead is attempting to position himself in the breakaway ahead of a possible ambush move from Mikel Landa later in the stage. Will we be seeing a hail Mary attack from the Basque this afternoon? Wouldn't that be fun. 

140km to go

The stage leaders are around 11km from the summit of the category one Cormet de Roselend. Jumbo-Visma have five rider on the front of the main bunch. Pierre Rolland and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) are chasing, but may struggle to close that gap. 

The breakaway in full . . .

Nikias Arndt (Sunweb), Alberto Bettiol (EF Pro Cycling), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-McLaren), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers), Dario Cataldo (Movistar), Jasper De Buyst (Lotto-Soudal), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Simon Geschke (CCC), Michael Gogl (NTT), Jesús Herrada (Cofidis), Marc Hirschi (Sunweb), Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb), Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Krists Neilands (Israel Start-Up Nation), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Nans Peters (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Dayer Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Nicholas Roche (Sunweb), José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar), Luis León Sánchez (Astana), Matteo Trentin (CCC), Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Tejay van Garderen (EF Pro Cycling), Michael Valgren (NTT) and Carlos Verona (Movistar).

150km to go

A very large breakaway group comprising 32 riders lead the stage by almost two minutes. Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) missed out, but is chasing them down — presumably he is thinking about adding a pile of points to his tally in the mountains classification. The Frenchman started the day 30 points adrift of polka-dot jersey holder Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and with 46 points available atop the five categorised climbs, he could take that off the young Slovenian later this afternoon.

Bennett extends lead in race for green

Well that backfired for Peter Sagan after the Bora-Hansgrohe rider was beaten to the intermediate sprint by a very confident looking Sam Bennett. The Irishman tightens his grip on the green jersey after earning five more points than Sagan, while Matteo Trentin was second, a result that sees the Italian close in on the Slovakian.

And here are the intermediate standings in full . . .

162km to go

As Peter Sagan, Sam Bennett and Matteo Trentin (CCC) edge closer to the intermediate sprint, Jumbo-Visma ride on the front of the peloton, monitoring any moves after a pair of Bora-Hansgrohe riders — Lennard Kämna and Maximilian Schachmann— go off up the road.

165km to go

A sizeable group has formed off the front of the peloton, interesting to note that Peter Sagan has Sam Bennett glued to his wheel. Should the green jersey of Bennett stick with Sagan all the way to the intermediate, then he will more than likely beat the seven-time winner of that particular competition which would see the Irishman extend his lead. That, of course, would pile the pressure on Sagan and his Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates ahead of Friday's rolling stage.

170km to go

On a wide open road, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) shifts towards the front of the peloton before riding up the road. The breakaway specialist has not spent too much time with his nose into the wind at this year's Tour, could this be his day? The popular Belgian has Dario Cataldo (Movistar), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis Solutions Crédits) and Krists Neilands (Israel Start-up Nation) for company.

And they're off!

Stage 18 at the Tour de France, the final mountainous test for these weary riders, is under way and, unsurprisingly, there is an army of riders sitting poised, waiting for the attacks to start.

So, what's on the menu today?

In summary: mountains. There are five of the categorised beasts — Cormet de Roselend, Côté de la Route des Villes, Col des Saisies, Col des Aravis and finally the Montée du Plateau des Glières — of varied difficulty and, at times, on different road surfaces meaning that today could be a day for an ambush.

But before the first climb of the day, there's the small matter of the intermediate sprint which is very early in the stage, coming after just 14km in the small town or village of Aime. It's a tough start today, uphill all the way with a sharp spike in the road after around 5km of racing, so I wouldn't be too surprised to see Bora-Hansgrohe drill it from the off in an effort to drop green jersey holder Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and give their man Peter Sagan a slim chance of closing the gap on the Irishman. There are as many points up for grabs at the intermediate sprint today as there are at the finishing line, the stage being weighted in the favour of the climbers.

There are bonus seconds on offer atop the final climb of the day, the hors catégorie Montée du Plateau des Glières which features 1,800 metres of 'non-asphalted' road. You can call this a gravel section if you like, if that excites you. These will be the final time bonuses on offer in this year's race — other than those on the finish line — and will be given to the first three over the summit, the stage leaders having 8, 5 and 2sec taken off their time on general classification.

So, will today be a stage for the breakaway, or are the general classification contenders going to be going wheel-to-wheel for the line honours? Who knows, but fairly certain Jumbo-Visma will be happy for a breakaway to take the stage, while they babysit their maillot jaune for one final day in the mountains, another day closer to Paris. Another day closer to a historic victory for Primoz Roglic and Slovenia. Jumbo-Visma will, of course, be wise to the fact that today is the perfect terrain for somebody to launch a long-range attack or late ambush on Roglic, but with the firepower at their disposal can anybody challenge them? Racing starts in 10 minutes.

As it stands . . .

Those familiar with stage racing will know that there are a number of jerseys on offer in various competitions, or classifications. Here's a quick guide of who's wearing what for anybody new to the sport . . .

And here are the current leaders in the respective competitions . . .

But if you want to take a closer look at the details, here you go  . . .

Morning  

And welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 18 at the 107th edition of the Tour de France, the 175-kilometre run from Méribel to La Roche-sur-Foron. Before we have a look at today's stage, let's have a recap of what happened yesterday. First up, here's Tom Cary's report after Miguel Ángel López soared to a fine stage victory and Primoz Roglic tightened his grip on the yellow jersey . . .

It was billed as the biggest test of this Tour de France. A day to satisfy even the most sadistic of cycling fans; with the fearsome Col de la Madeleine merely an hors-d'oeuvre for what was to come. The much-hyped Col de la Loze. The newest paved climb in the Alps. With pitches of over 20 per cent near the summit, where the air is thinnest, there would be no hiding place up here. No faking it.
If Wednesday was any guide, we can anoint Primoz Roglic Slovenia’s first Tour de France champion now. The former ski jumper is flying towards the finish in Paris on Sunday.

Meanwhile, our colleagues at The Cycling Podcast published their latest episode on Wednesday night. While we are waiting for today's stage to get under way, why don't you give it a listen?

The Tour de France reached Méribel and a new climb, the Col de la Loze, taking the riders to more than 2,300 metres of altitude. But did it settle the general classification once and for all?
On the steep final climb it was Superman Miguel Angel Lopez who soared away from the rest to win his first Tour de France stage. Behind, Primoz Roglic tightened his grip on the yellow jersey.
Join Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and François Thomazeau at their mountain hideaway as they recap a great stage of the Tour. We ask whether Roglic has done enough, whether anyone else can deny Pogacar and Lopez a place on the podium and finally what were Bahrain-McLaren hoping to achieve?