Tour de France stage 18 LIVE: Pau to Luz Ardiden

Updates from the final mountain stage in the 2021 Tour de France

Good afternoon cycling fans and welcome to Cycling Weekly's live coverage of stage 18 of the 2021 Tour de France

Stage start: 13.35 local time (12.35 UK)


Good morning and welcome to live coverage of the final mountain stage of 2021 Tour de France. 

Here's the profile for today's final mountain stage:

Start time for today's stage is 1.35pm French time (12.35pm British time). 

Here's what Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has to say about today's stage: 

Breaking news on the Tour this morning: 

Riders are out for the neutralised start. 

This fan knew how to get Geraint Thomas's attention at the start of stage 17. 

2.4km until the official start of the stage.

And we're racing! We have the first attacks. 

More attacks from back in the bunch but nothing sticks.

Julian Alaphilippe putting in a huge attack at the front of the bunch and he's flying.

The Mohorič, Juul-Jensen, Bennett group still lead as they hit the first categorised climb of the day, which is 2.6km-long.

It's now around 30km to the foot of the next climb, the Côte de Loucrup, which is only 2km-long at 6.7 per cent gradient.  

Alaphilippe and Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis) are still trying to chase across to the breakaway.

This is a brutal chase fo Alaphilippe and Périchon. They still stuck 25 seconds behind the leading trio, as the road is pan-flat and straight, giving them no opportunities to really make any gains. 

Alaphilippe and Périchon have just about made it across to the break! 

Around 20km until the next categorised climb, and around 30km to the foot of the Col du Tourmalet. 

Well it's not looking great for the five-rider breakaway.

Slightly unusual tactics from Bahrain Victorious, who have Matej Mohorič up in the break but are also pulling at the front of the bunch. 

The race is now on the second categorised climb of the day, which is just 2km long.

The intermediate sprint is around 10km further down the road, with Cavendish hoping to hold onto his advantage in the green jersey competition, while Matthews and Colbrelli try to usurp him before Paris. 

Meanwhile the break have hit the top of the Côte de Loucrup, with Julian Alaphilippe the first of the five riders to cross over.

The peloton is over the top of the Côte de Loucrup. 

The intermediate sprint is now fast approaching. 

As we've just hit another lull in the stage, let's look at some data from stage 17.

Julian Alaphilippe won the intermediate sprint up in the break to take maximum points as the peloton have just hit the sprint one-minute behind.

Attacks off the front of the bunch now as the Tourmalet approaches. Trek-Segafredo have sent three riders on the attack with Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) following. Deceuninck - Quick-Step are still marking and have sent a rider up into that attacking group.  

Cavendish scored 11 points at the intermediate sprint, with Matthews forced to settle for 9 points, Colbrelli only taking seven.

Here's the points classification after that sprint: 

about 5km to the foot of the Tourmalet. 

There's a shake up in the breakaway, as Alaphilippe and Mohorič have pressed on together on the approach to the Tourmalet. 

On the Col du Tourmalet then and there's 52km to go.

Pierre Latour is on the attack again from the peloton on the Tourmalet. He has Kenny Elissonde joining him in the move

Mark Cavendish is dropped out the back early on the Tourmalet but he has three team-mates round him. Just this and the next climb for the Manxman to navigate to safely make it through to the final few stages.

Latour and Elissonde have caught Rolland and there's now a group of three Frenchman chasing Alaphilippe and Mohoric on the Tourmalet. They're 1-02 behind now however.

We could of course see another solo victor today atop Luz Ardiden. We took a look at just why there's been so many lone winners in this year's Tour.

Valentin Madouas has now made it up to the Rolland group, so we have four Frenchmen chasing the world champion (also French), and the Slovenian national champion

Another counter attack from the UAE led peloton. Miguel Angel Lopez of Movistar has hit out and is looking to bridge to our four French riders

Ruben Guerreiro, David Gaudu, Omar Fraile, Nairo Quintana and Ion Izagirre have joined Lopez in the pursuit

Ineos now take up the charge in the peloton, but there's still only 1-20 up to the front group. Cavendish and his four team-mates are currently at 3-12 with 10km to go to the top of the Col du Tourmalet

Kenny Elissonde has now despatched his compatriots and his pursuing the two leaders alone. Meanwhile, Lopez and Quintana are back in the peloton with 44km to go

The gap to the break is below a minute now, the GC teams are clearly eyeing a stage win today on the final summit finish

It's still Ineos on the front of the peloton. The British team may have Richard Carapaz in third overall but they've yet to take a victory, and look determined to set their main man up for a stage victory today

Still 6.5km to the top of the Tourmalet, surely one of, if not the most famous climb in the Tour. This is the 88th time the peloton of the Tour has climbed the Tourmalet, the first ever taking place in 1910. Last time it was used was 2018 when Thibaut Pinot won the summit finish there, albeit from a different side.

This is how to secure your dog for a bike race

Our chasing group of seven have now made it up to Alaphilippe and Mohoric, making a nine-man leading group. They only have 23 seconds however on the peloton so this may all be back together very shortly.

Valentin Madouas has dropped away from the break after putting in a big effort for his Groupama-FDJ team-mate David Gaudu. He picks up the pace but they still only have 22 seconds with 5km to the summit.

Gaudu's pace has split the front group and only Alaphilippe and Guerreiro can follow

Pierre Latour has made it back to the leading group, so we now have four riders with 41 seconds over the peloton

We're 3.9km from the top of the climb and we should expect to see some polka dot jersey action at the top. The peloton is still not far behind and the top four in that competition are all there.

This the current KoM standings:

Julian Alaphilippe has been dropped from the front group

Rigoberto Uran appears to be on a difficult day and is struggling to maintain the pace of the Ineos-led peloton

This could be the end of Uran's GC campaign completely - he fell off the podium yesterday but with around 2.5km to the top of the Tourmalet and the finishing climb to Luz Ardiden still to come, the Colombian could be losing a lot of time today

Michael Woods and Wout Poels attack from the peloton - they're going for KoM points

Gaudu is pushing on and has dropped Guerreiro now, he has just Latour for company and around 50 seconds on the yellow jersey group

Poels and Woods are about 40 seconds behind Gaudu/Latour - it doesn't look like they'll catch them before the summit so they'll have to settle for the 12 and 10 points 

Latour takes maximum points, Gaudu takes second. Poels just about catches Fraile before the summit to take fourth place behind Guerreiro. That's 10 extra points for Poels.

KoM standings after Col du Tourmalet:

David Gaudu, who has looked in better and better form as this race has gone on, is now solo out front after distancing Latour early on the descent

The lone leader has 1-01 on the yellow jersey, while Uran is now a further minute back

Gaudu has already put 40 seconds into Latour and is holding his gap on the peloton. Latour is about to be caught by Guerreiro, Poels, and Fraile who are also chasing

In terms of the KoM competition, there's double points available on the line at the top of Luz Ardiden. Unless Poels can pull off an unexpected stage result, he'll need to hop Tadej Pogacar doesn't finish in the top three today so he can hold on to the jersey. There's only two points available on the remaining three stages after today.

The situation as it stands with 20km to go:

Gaudu is still on the move and looking good. But his advantage is still modest on the descent from the Tourmalet, just 38 seconds over the yellow jersey group. 

BOOM we're there, David Gaudu has hit the slopes of Luz Ardiden, to the summit now.

Around 50 riders left in the yellow jersey group, Ineos are back on the front and have good numbers. Five riders on the front including Carapaz. 

Michal Kwiatkowski takes over at the front of the Ineos train and the gap to Gaudu is falling quickly to 12 seconds

Wout Poels is now falling behind, so he will have to hope Pogacar finishes lower than third to keep hold of the polka-dot jersey

Just under 10km to go now and it doesn't look good Gaudu, who is 12 seconds ahead

David Gaudu has been caught, so it's the yellow jersey group at the front of the race now

Kwiatkowski has finished his effort and leaves the pacing to Tao Geoghegan Hart. Pogacar looks comfortable with the pace while a lot of riders are being shed quickly out the back

Pogacar still has one team-mate in Rafal Majka, Jonas Vingegaard still has Wout van Aert and Sepp Kuss around him

Still 8.3km to go and Geoghegan Hart continues with the pace setting on the front, not allowing any attacks

The polka dot jersey Wout Poels is just about working his way back to the back of peloton, a remarkable recovery after looking like his day was done.

Rigoberto Uran is back at over six minutes now, so his place in the top 10 is gone

6.5km to go and Geoghegan Hart is still working on the front. Jonathan Castroviejo will be the next rider to take it up for Ineos

There's nothing anyone can do about attacking right now with Giro d'Italia winner Geoghegan Hart still hammering the pace inside 5.5km to go

Rafal Majka is now coming up to take over at the front with Pogacar on his wheel, while Van Aert has been dropped

Inside 5km to go and Majka looks to be setting Pogacar up for an attack 

Wout Poels has been dropped again after the increase in pace from UAE. If Pogacar wins the stage he'll be taking home yellow, white and polka-dot jerseys for the second edition in a row

The yellow jersey looks fresh and composed with 4.4km to go, he has that same look as he did on Col du Portet yesterday...

Pogacar attacks!

He is tracked by Castroviejo, Carapaz, Vingegaard, Kuss and Enric Mas with 3.1km to go

Kuss comes to the front with 3km to go and is leading the group

Enric Mas really struggled yesterday and lost over two minutes, but the Movistar man is looking much better today and is following the top three on GC

There's 2.5km to the line and Kuss is still leading this group of five

Kuss continues to lead into 1.5km to go - who will attack first?

Dan Martin has countered from the second group on the road, but might have left it too late to bridge to the yellow jersey group

1km to go and Enric Mas tries a move but is followed by Pogacar

Kuss has now dropped away from the lead group

It looks like it'll be another sprint for the line 

Mas attacks again and gets a gap!

Pogacar closes the gap and races past Mas with Carapaz trying to catch him

Pogacar powers on in the final 400m

Tadej Pogacar wins stage 18 of the 2021 Tour de France!

Jonas Vingegaard takes second place and Carapaz third. Mas rolls in a few seconds later in fourth place with Dan Martin fifth

Top-10 on stage 18:

Back to back mountain stages for Pogacar. He looked unstoppable today, there was just simply nothing anyone could do to drop him or attack him. Once he wanted to go all the others could do was try and follow as best they could. 

Here's the general classification:

1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 75-00-02
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 5-45
3. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 5-51
4. Ben O'Connor (Aus) Ag2r Citroën Team, at 8-18
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 8-50
6. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar Team, at 10-11
7. Alexey Lusenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech, at 11-22
8. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, at 12-46
9. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain Victorious, at 13-48
10. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 18-42

Photo of today's winner, leaving the other GC contenders completely in his wake

Our full stage report is up. Read all about the stage here:

We've got the latest reaction from the stage winner and yellow jersey:

There's just one day left, a 30.8km time trial on stage 20, for anyone do challenge Pogačar's lead. Considering the gap and Richard Carapaz's performance in the last time trial, it's unlikely the Ecuadorian will be able to spring a surprise. 

Read more: Mark Cavendish eyeing another stage win after making it through final Tour de France mountains 

Here's our analysis from the stage

Tour de France stage winner Matej Mohorič said that he felt like a "drug dealer" as police raided his Bahrain Victorious hotel on Wednesday night in Pau.

Richard Carapaz has indicated that he may ride the Vuelta a España after all-but securing third place at the Tour de France. 

And that wraps up live coverage from stage 18 of the Tour de France. 

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