Ag2r-La Mondiale rider Christophe Riblon soloed to take France's first victory of the 2013 Tour de France atop Alpe d'Huez this afternoon as race leader Chris Froome (Sky) endured his toughest day in the yellow jersey.
Riblon was part of the day's main breakaway, and having survived overshooting a corner and ending up in a ditch on the descent of the Col de Sarenne, he managed to catch and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) with two kilometres remaining after the American had distanced him on the lower slopes of the Alpe.
Further down the mountain, Froome faded having helped split the peloton significantly beforehand. The Briton's attack shortly after the start of the second ascent removed all-but Nairo Quintana, Joaquim Rodriguez, Alejandro Valverde and Richie Porte from the GC group.
Froome was able to follow an attack from Quintana and another from Rodriguez shortly after, but visibly lost a lot of his power with around six kilometres remaining.
Porte appeared to give his team-mate an energy gel, which possibly may have come from the Sky car. From the provisional results, it appears Froome was given a 20-second time penalty for the illegal feed.
This presented white jersey wearer Quintana and Rodriguez the chance to put time into the race leader, which they duly took. They put over a minute into Froome, who himself put a minute into Alberto Contador.
Contador remains in second overall, just 21 seconds clear of Quintana after attempts from his Saxo-Tinkoff team failed to put Froome in any trouble. They sent Sergio Paulinho and Nicolas Roche upfront early on, but both were caught by the time the riders were halfway up the first of two ascents of the Alpe. Contador and Kreuziger attacked on the fast, tight and technical descent of the Sarenne but were reeled in before the second time up the climb.
Tour de France 2013, stage 18: Gap to Alpe d'Huez, 172.5km
1. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale in 4-51-32
2. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC at 0-59
3. Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale at 1-27
4. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 2-12
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 2-15
6. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 3-18
7. Chris Froome (Gbr) Sky at st.
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 3-22
9. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 4-15
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at st
Overall classification after stage 18
1. Chris Froome (Gbr) Sky 71-02-19
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 5-11
3. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 5-32
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 5-44
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 5-59
6. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 8-58
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 9-33
8. Michael Rogers (Aus) Saxo-Tinkoff at 14-26
9. Michal Kwiatkowski (Aus) Saxo-Tinkoff at 14-38
10. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 14-56
Tour de France 2013: Coverage index
Nick Bull is an NCTJ qualified journalist who has written for a range of titles, as well as being a freelance writer at Beat Media Group, which provides reports for the PA Media wire which is circulated to the likes of the BBC and Eurosport. His work at Cycling Weekly predominantly dealt with professional cycling, and he now holds a role as PR & Digital Manager at SweetSpot Group, which organises the Tour of Britain.
Owner of Raleigh bikes sold in €1.56 billion deal
US private equity firm KKR have bought Dutch bicycle company Accell Group
By Ryan Dabbs • Published
New Le Col x Wahoo indoor training collection is 'most advanced ever'
Clothing developed with the Wahoo Le Col team is designed for even hotter temperatures
By Simon Smythe • Published