Tour de France 2017: Warren Barguil wins on Col d'Izoard as Chris Froome closes in on overall victory - Road Cycling UK

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Tour de France 2017: Warren Barguil wins on Col d’Izoard as Chris Froome closes in on overall victory

Frenchman seals King of the Mountains title by winning on first ever Col d'Izoard summit finish

Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb), in the polka dot jersey of King of the Mountains, won stage 18 of the 2017 Tour de France on the Col d’Izoard as Chris Froome closed in on overall victory.

Barguil bridged across to Darwin Atapuma (UAE Team Emirates), who was bidding for a Colombian win on their National Day, on the climb and accelerated away from him under the flamme rouge.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) lost four bonus seconds to Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) – who moved second as a result – but finished fourth and leads by 23 seconds overall after the final mountain stage of this year’s race.

Froome and Bardet finished two seconds ahead of Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac), who now drops to third overall as a result.

Simon Yates (Orica-Scott), in the white jersey, finished ninth meanwhile – losing 22 seconds to Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) but successfully retaining top spot in the youth classification.

Warren Barguil grabbed his second stage win at the 2017 Tour de France, soling to victory on the Col d’Izoard (pic – Sirotti)

The breakaway that formed earlier was more a splitting of the peloton than an attack, with 54 riders counted up the road – representing every team other than Bora-hansgrohe, Team Sky and LottoNL-Jumbo.

The former tried to amend that by drilling the pace on the front of the peloton, but they only succeeded in giving the GC teams a free ride as the gap grew to more than seven minutes.

At the front, splits kept happening, with Britain’s Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates) among those regularly getting in the front part, while Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) snaffled some climbing points and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) won the intermediate sprint.

At the top of the category-one Col de Vars it was Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) at the front, with Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Darwin Atapuma (UAE Team Emirates) and Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) on his tail.

In the yellow jersey group, the benefit of Bora-hansgrohe’s pace-setting was clear, as Luke Rowe and Christian Knees guided Team Sky almost all the way up.

Ag2r-La Mondiale took over to drive a hard pace on the run-in to the Col d’Izoard and that ate into the breakaway’s advantage but could not distance Bardet’s rivals.

At the front, after a small re-grouping on the run-in, Lutsenko then went solo at the bottom of the Col d’Izoard

Atampuma bridged across, and sailed past the Kazakh rider, while Barguil and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) attacked in the peloton.

Barguil’s attack stuck, but Contador could not get free of the GC men, even with team-mate Bauke Mollema’s assistance.

By this point, Sky were back on the front of the bunch, Michal Kwiatkowski riding himself into the ground for his team-mates, almost literally – the Pole grinding to a total standstill when his turn finished.

Kwiatkowski swinging off laid the platform for Mikel Landa to attack, and it meant when Bardet put his own attack in, Froome was able to follow, with Uran in tow and then bridge across to Landa after the short descent before the Casse Deserte.

At the front, Barguil had bridged to Atapuma, and went clear under the flamme rouge with the Colombian unable to follow his wheel.

The Frenchman pressed on, soloing to victory to claim his second stage win of this year’s race, and Team Sunweb’s fourth in six days.

Chris Froome lost four seconds overall, but with the mountains over he now has just a long, flat stage 19 and the stage 20 time trial to defend his lead before Paris (pic – Sirotti)

He is also now guaranteed to keep the polka dot jersey as long as he reaches Paris, and should join team-mate and green jersey Michael Matthews on the final podium.

In the general classification, meanwhile, a late dig from Bardet was enough to snatch third place behind Atapuma – Froome unable to get past him to deny the Frenchman bonus seconds on the line.

Those four bonus seconds, plus a two-second split to Uran, means Bardet is now 23 seconds behind Froome, and six clear of Uran.

Yates, meanwhile, despite being dropped by Meintjes late on the climb, cut his losses to claim a top-ten place on the day and stay 2’16” clear of the South African in the white jersey.

Froome and Yates now faces a flattish stage 19 and the 22km time trial in Marseille to defend their respective leads before the ceremonial finish in Paris.

Tour de France 2017: stage 18 – result

1) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Team Sunweb – 4.40.33hrs
2) Darwin Atapuma (COL) – UAE Team Emirates +20″
3) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale – ST
4) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky
5) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Cannondale-Drapac +22″
6) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Team Sky +32″
7) Louis Meintjes (RSA) – UAE Team Emirates +37″
8) Daniel Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors +39″
9) Simon Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott +59″
10) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Trek-Segafredo +1.09

General classification

1) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – 78.08.19hrs
2) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +23″
3) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Cannondale-Drapac +29″
4) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Team Sky +1.36
5) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +1.55
6) Daniel Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors +2.56
7) Simon Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott +4.46
8) Louis Meintjes (RSA) – UAE Team Emirates +6.52
9) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Team Sunweb +8.22
10) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Trek-Segafredo +8.34

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