Stage 18 photo gallery>>
German rider Marcus Burghardt gave Team Columbia their fifth stage win of the Tour de France in Saint-Etienne, outsprinting Quick Step's Carlos Barredo after a cagey finish.
Burghardt and Barredo escaped after 68 kilometres of the 196-kilometre 18th stage from Bourg d'Oisans and stayed clear of a chase group of Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole), Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel) to contest the finish.
The Feillu group crossed the line 3-33 behind the winner. There was more drama behind as Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) tried to gain time on Andy Schleck to pinch the white jersey as the best young rider in the race.
Schleck quickly marked it and was in a five-man group that came in a few seconds in front of the peloton, which was at 6-50.
Oscar Freire won the bunch sprint for 11th place to add a little more of a cushion in his quest to win the green jersey. The overall picture was largely unchanged, with yellow jersey holder Carlos Sastre and his main rivals all finishing in the bunch.
Once again there was an extremely aggressive start to the stage. Seven riders broke clear in the first ten kilometres. They were Marcus Burghardt of Team Columbia, Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas), former king of the mountains leader Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner), Freddy Bichot (Agritubel), Bjorn Schroder (Milram) and Cofidis duo Stephane Auge and Maxime Montfort.
Quick Step and Bouygues Telecom had missed the move so were keen to chase. For 40 kilometres the break persisted and the bunch insisted and eventually it all came together again.
Meanwhile, the Italian, Damiano Cunego, was caught in a crash and took his time getting back on his bike. By the 60 kilometre stage, he was almost ten minutes behind the peloton.
After 70 kilometres the attacks started again, with Carlos Barredo of Quick Step, former yellow jersey Romain Feillu and Burghardt again going clear.
Burghardt and Barredo teamed up and very quickly had a huge lead over the peloton, with a chase group consisting of Feillu, Christophe Le Mevel and Mikel Astarloza in between.
The maximum lead for the front pair over the bunch was just over 10 minutes but the bunch showed little interest in chasing down. Cunego trailed in a long way behind the bunch surrounded by Lampre team-mates. One thing is certain, the Italian has had appalling luck in this Tour.
Stage 18 results
1. Marcus Burghardt (Germany) Team Columbia in 4-30-21
2. Carlos Barredo (Spain) Quick Step same time
3. Romain Feillu (France) Agritubel at 3-33
4. Christophe Le Mevel (France) Credit Agricole same time
5. Mikel Astarloza (Spain) Euskaltel at 3-35
6. Samuel Dumoulin (France) Cofidis at 6-39
7. Cyril Dessel (France) AG2R
8. Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic) Liquigas
9. Leif Hoste (Belgium) Silence-Lotto
10. Andy Schleck (Luxembourg) CSC all same time
1. Carlos Sastre (Spain) CSC in 79-16-14
2. Frank Schleck (Luxembourg) CSC at 1-24
3. Bernhard Kohl (Germany) Gerolsteiner at 1-33
4. Cadel Evans (Australia) Silence-Lotto at 1-34
5. Denis Menchov (Russia) Rabobank at 2-39
6. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Chipotle at 4-41
7. Alejandro Valverde (Spain) Caisse d'Epargne at 5-35
8. Samuel Sanchez (Spain) Euskaltel at 5-52
9. Tadej Valjavec (Slovenia) AG2R at 8-10
10. Vladimir Efimkin (Russia) AG2R at 8-24
Burghardt wins stage 18 (LC)
Barredo and Burghardt
Photos by Graham Watson and Luc Claessen (LC)
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS|
Stage 17: Sastre wins on Alpe d'Huez, takes lead
Stage 16: Dessel wins
Stage 15: Schleck takes lead in the Alps
Stage 14: Oscar Freire wins in Digne-les-Bains
Stage 13: Cavendish takes fourth win
Stage 12: Cavendish makes it three
Stage 11: Arvesen wins
Stage 10: Evans takes yellow jersey by one second
Stage nine: Ricco wins in the Pyrenees
Stage eight: Cavendish wins again in Toulouse
Stage seven: Sanchez takes action-packed stage
Stage six: Ricco storms to win
Stage five: Cavendish takes first Tour win
Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead
Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break
Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint
Stage one: Valverde wins
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: NEWS|
Analysis: tactical battle on L'Alpe d'Huez [stage 17]
Schleck promises to attack main rivals
Schleck ready to defend Tour lead [stage 15]
Rest day news round-up [July 21]
Saunier Duval riders: "We are honest"
Cavendish talks to Cycling Weekly after quitting Tour
Schleck savours first ever Tour de France jersey [stage 15]
Comment: Why Cav is right to go home today
Cavendish pulls out of the Tour
Barloworld to end cycling sponsorship
Ricco speaks on Italian television
Cavendish joins the all-time greats
Saunier Duval sack Ricco and Piepoli
Tour bosses say fight against doping continues
Ricco denies doping at the Tour
Saunier Duval pull out of Tour
Tour's top ten changes
Ricco positive for EPO at Tour
Analysis: Tour de France rest day summary
Cavendish battles through Pyrenees
Evans suffers but takes yellow jersey [stage 10]
Analysis: Hautacam shakes up 2008 Tour
Ricco silences critics with solo attack in Pyrenees [stage nine]
Cavendish talks about his second stage win [stage eight]
Beltran heads home but doubts remain about other Tour riders
David Millar: the dope controls are working
Manuel Beltran tests positive for EPO at the Tour
Comment: How the Tour rediscovered its spirit
Doping back in Tour de France headlines
Millar: close but no cigar in Super-Besse [stage six]
Super-Besse shows form of main contenders [stage six]
Millar to go for yellow [stage six]
Team Columbia's reaction to Cavendish's win [stage five]
Cavendish talks about his Tour stage win
Tour comment: Why Evans should be happy [stage four]
Millar: Still aiming for Tour yellow jersey [stage 4]
Who is Romain Feillu?
Cavendish disappointed with stage two result
Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey
Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?
Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec
Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win
Comment: Is Valverde's win a good thing for the Tour?
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: PHOTOS|
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: BLOGS|
Life at the Tour part five
Life at the Tour part four
Life at the Tour part three
Life at the Tour part two
Life at the Tour part one
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE|
Tour de France 2008 homepage>>
News and features>>
All the riders (start list, list of abandons)>>
Day by day summary>>
Route & stages>>
Teams and riders>>
About the Tour>>
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Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.
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