Arnaud Démare Sprints To Win Tour de France Stage 18
Sprint specialist Arnaud Démare won Stage 18 of the Tour de France on Thursday, edging fellow Frenchman Christophe Laporte and Norwegian rider Alexander Kristoff for his first stage victory in the 2018 race.
Démare’s Groupama team worked hard in the final kilometres to hold off other sprinters and set him up for victory. But he veered from his line when launching a final attack from inside 200 metres, flirting with the rule book and prompting Laporte to gesture in protest as the pair crossed the line.
“I didn’t battle all this time for nothing,” Démare, who had to fight through some tough mountain stages to avoid missing the time cut, told reporters. The Frenchman also said he was inspired by comments from rival André Greipel, who accused Démare of holding on to a car to make it through the mountains. (Greipel later apologised for the accusation.)
My apology go out to @ArnaudDemare and @GroupamaFDJ as I have had not the right to make that tweet based on GPS time, which can be wrong, plus I got the incorrect times he lost on the last hill. I’m sorry. Lesson learned: don’t tweet about sth you are not part off.
— Andre Greipel (@AndreGreipel) July 26, 2018
Geraint Thomas, who extended his overall lead on Stage 17 and is now closer than ever to his first Tour title, remains 1:39 ahead of Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin and 2:31 ahead of Sky teammate Chris Froome.
With three days to go before the final showdown in Paris, Sky’s victory appears secure. The team has managed having two riders in the top-three overall positions since Stage 11. Now, it looks like Froome will give up his ambitions for a fifth Tour championship as the whole team will ride for Thomas.
“We’re expecting the worst, hoping for the best,” said Thomas, who expects to fend off attacks from his rivals on Friday, the Tour’s final day in the mountains. “Guys will try to take any opportunity they can. It will be interesting, but we’ve been riding really well all race.”
Peter Sagan, who was nearly knocked out of the race after a brutal crash on Stage 17, came back to finish eighth on the stage. With a staggering 271-point lead over Kristoff in the Tour’s Points Classification, he has all but secured a record-tying sixth green jersey when the race ends on Sunday.
Thanks everybody for your support and messages! That was a hard crash but, fortunately, I haven’t broken anything and I feel confident about the last four stages of @LeTour (@bettiniphoto) pic.twitter.com/9VuYYmFl0W
— Peter Sagan (@petosagan) July 25, 2018
“After what happened yesterday with the crash, I was in a lot of pain today, ” Sagan said. “I think tomorrow will be much harder, but I consider myself lucky that, after such a crash, I’m still in the race and not sitting at home.”
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