Stage 18 Review
Stage winner: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
As expected, Nibali wanted to honor the yellow jersey with a stage win in the Pyrenees. As expected, nobody could match him. The only drama on this day was how far away Nibali would attack from. And 9.5 km is a long way away, not that anyone could stop him.
Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
The lead is now over 7 minutes. This has been one of the most dominating Tours of all time. Only the time trial remains at this point and Nibali is likely the best of the GC men other than maybe Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) in that discipline as well.
Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
Another day of waiting for Sagan. Tomorrow is the day he has been waiting for and saving energy for.
King of the Mountains: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo)
Majka smartly realized he was one of the top 2-3 climbers in the race and avoided the break. Even with a Nibali stage win, Majka only needed to finish in the top 6 to clinch the jersey. He did that with a 3rd place finish on the stage to wrap up a very successful debut Tour de France (and an extraordinarily successful season most likely with a top 10 in the Giro along with his two stage wins and King of the Mountains here.
White Jersey: Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
Second place on the stage and how second place overall. Pinot has the white jersey in hand and now needs to ride one of the best time trials of his life to ensure a place on the final podium.
Tactical Masterclass: Astana
It might have seemed perfunctory, but it wasn’t. Astana had to work hard to keep the break from getting too far away. Mission accomplished and mission accomplished for Nibali as well on the mountain.
Tactical Blunder: Movistar
The Tourmalet was far too far away to think of going away on this stage, even on the descent. That Alejandro Valverde seemingly planned to do so and then had his men in the break slow up to help him was foolhardy. Of course Valverde compounded the issue further with a lack of legs, possibly from the energy wasted by his downhill attack and dropped to 4th place going into a discipline he is not great in.
Stage 19 - Val d’Adour - Bergerac
Expectations entering the stage: Peter Sagan makes his latest glorious attempt at a stage victory in this year’s race. And probably fails again.
Jersey’s in play
- None - All the jerseys are pretty much decided with only the time trial left.
GC items of note: The GC men and their teams are going to do absolutely nothing on this stage. They don’t care in front of the time trial. This leaves the sprinters teams to do all the work to catch the breakaway.
Stage Pick: Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)
Kristoff has gotten better and better as the race has gone on. Given the negative racing against Sagan and the realization that his team is going to get used chasing the breakaway, the winner will be the fast man with the right team motivation. Katusha isn’t winning against Kittel and Griepel on the Champs-Elysses and they don’t have anyone who cares about the time trial so it’s all in tomorrow and Kristoff will pay it off with a 3rd stage win.