18/07/13 - 11:30
Gap - Alpe d'Huez
Tour de France • Stage18

Gap - Alpe d'Huez

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With that ride, Quintana moves onto the podium in third place. Froome now has 5:11 over Contador and 5:32 over the Colombian.


Contador finished just under a minute back after a late rally - surely he cannot win the Tour de France any more?


Porte and Froome power towards the line and it's Porte who crosses the line first before the pair embrace each other, with Valverde crossing just behind. They finished at 3:18.


Nairo Quintana out-sprints Joaquim Rodriguez to take fourth, 2:12 down on the winner.


Moreno Moser takes third place 1:30 down.


Tejay van Garderen crosses the line 58 seconds down to take second place - so near and yet so far...


Victory for Christophe Riblon of Ag2R-La Mondiale! The Frenchman has time to savour it and is in tears as he punches the air on multiple occasions through the final bends and crosses the air, arms aloft.


What a day for Riblon and the host nation!


Riblon's Ag2R-La Mondiale DS draws level in the team car, but Riblon waves him away - he doesn't want or need the distraction.


Quintana and Rodriguez have 30 seconds on Froome and Porte and 1:45 on the Contador group.


RIBLON DANCES CLEAR AS HE REACHES VAN GARDEREN! We're going to have a French victory on the Tour!


Van Garderen is really pedalling squares and Riblon has a second wind as they reach the 2-to-go banner.


Riblon has Van Garderen in his sights! The American has hit the wall!


Van Garderen is tiring... he has 22 seconds on Riblon now inside the last 3km.


Quintana soloes clear with Rodriguiez in pursuit, while Sky regroup.


Porte went back and got some energy gels - and just as he was handing them to Froome, a spectator almost pulls down the Australian when his Japanese flag gets caught on his handlebars! We're also hearing that this is an illegal feed for Sky - it's within the last 6km and so there may be repercussions...


Van Garderen still has 3:30 on the yellow jersey group - BUT FROOME HAS A PROBLEM! His arm is up and he is gesticulating to the support cars. Porte drops back... and now Quintana attacks!


Porte is having a storming day. He's driving such a pace that even Froome is struggling to keep up with him. Crucially, that means that Quintana and Rodriguez cannot take advantage of Froome's weary legs with an attack.


Van Garderen is looking good for the win - he has 45 second on Riblon now, and 3:40 on the yellow jersey group.


Quintana, Rodriguez and Froome have been caught by the marvellous Richie Porte just as they catch and pass Jens Voigt. Froome will be happy to see the Australian.


Contador is now one minute down on Froome, and is back with Kreuziger, Serpa and Moreno.


Van Garderen pushes a man in a polka dot jersey who has been persistently running alongside him, then shakes his fist at him. As if it's hard enough not to cycle up Alpe d'Huez for a second time without having to deal with cretins while doing so...


Both Rodriguez and Quintana are out of the saddle, but they're not making much headway over Froome.


The gap is now four minutes for Van Garderen, who also leads Riblon by 32 seconds.


Froome looks to be struggling here to keep up with Quintana - it's the first time we've seen a human side to him in this year's Tour!


Moments after Froome almost rides into a rogue running kid, Rodriguez puts in an attack! The Spaniard opens a small gap over Froome and Quintana...


Quintana ups the tempo and opens up a small gap, but Froome and Rodriguez close the gap. The Contador group, which also has Valverde, Moreno and Porte, have caught Jeannesson.


Katusha attack! Purito and Moreno pull clear, before the latter peels off, his work done. Rodriguez is riding back on with Froome and Quintana, while Contador and Valverde have no answer.


Froome and Quintana are picking off some of the earlier breakaway riders - the likes of Danielson and Jeannesson.


Quintana has managed to reach Froome's wheel. Behind them is a quartet of Rodriguez, Contador, Valverde and Moreno - with Porte just sitting on the back refusing to help lead the chase.


Kreuziger has cracked and is dropped from the main pack... and then Froome attacks! No one can follow... unbelievable stuff.


10km to go for Van Garderen and he still has 4:20 over the pack. Riblon is in pursuit, while Voigt and Moser ride further down the road...


Porte fights back to his team leader's side, and is greeted by a hug from Froome - real camaraderie there! They know that they have this race in their pocket now...


FROOME ATTACKS! The yellow jersey puts in one of his trademark in-the-saddle high-cadence attacks moments after whispering something to Porte. The big favourites stay with him, but Mollema has been dropped. They catch the Valverde and Serpa group.


Tejay van Garderen is the lone leader, 4:35 ahead of the yellow jersey pack.


Richie Porte is setting the pace, the last Sky man with Froome. Poised to strike behind the yellow jersey are the likes of Rodriguez, Moreno, Quintana, Fuglsang, Contador and Kreuziger.


Numerous attacks at the start of the climb - Serpa and Valverde amongst them. Off the back goes Ten Dam, Voeckler and Schleck...


Wow - 41-year-old Jens Voigt has caught Moser! They still trail the two leaders by 20 seconds and Van Garderen is really ramping it up because he knows that Movistar are on the rampage.


Movistar are ripping it up - and the gap is down to 5:30 as the main pack approach the climb. This is a sprint to the start of the climb - and it is going to have devastating results once the road heads uphill!


Schleck, Nieve and Chavanel are caught by the pack, with Rolland and Poels soon to follow. It's been the pace setting of Movistar that did for them. But if they're thinking of setting up Quintana for the win, it's probably too late - surely even the Colombian climber cannot overturn a seven-minute deficit on the final climb?


Moser is dropped from the outset - and it's TGV and Riblon riding alongside Didi the Devil at the start of this decisive climb. Can they hang on? Probably.


The three leaders - Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Moreno Moser (Cannondale) - are onto the second ascent of the HC Alpe d’Huez (13.8km at 8.1%). They have 7:20 over the pack.


Yes, it was a bike change for Contador... trying to play the same game as Froome yesterday.


CONTADOR OFF THE BACK: The Spaniard must have had a mechanical or something because he's off the back with Kreuziger and now frantically fighting back on as Movistar lay it on thick on the front.


Rolland is back with the Schleck group now after that tough descent.


Van Garderen is closing in on the two leaders. He looked very solid on the last ascent of Alpe d'Huez but then suffered a problem with his chain on the Sarenne downhill.


Contador and Kreuziger talk and decide to knock it off, knowing that they're being tracked by both Sky and Movistar. Wise decision - they need to keep some energy back in reserve for the final ascent.


Now Movistar have moved to the front of the main pack, driving the pace for Quintana - who will certainly have a pop on the final ascent.


Contador and Kreuziger have 20 seconds on the yellow jersey group.


As expected, Pierre Rolland has been distanced on this descent from the Schleck group. So it's Nieve, Schleck, Chavanel and Poels together, with the Europcar rider lone in pursuit.


Riblon, with his wet shoes, is back with Moser on the front of the race. Moser may have had no idea what happened to him there. The Italian gets an energy gel from his team car. They have completed the main part of the downhill and are now on a slight uphill drag ahead of the final dip into the valley.


Van Garderen is 45 seconds down on Moser, the Schleck group is 6:15 back, while the peloton rides at 7:35.


The rain has held off - thankfully. Just a few drops at the moment - although the grupetto may get it worse, which would be cruel.


Moser is the lone leader after that Riblon spill and Van Garderen chain-drop. He's now onto a proper road, which he'll be pleased about.


Sky aren't chasing down the Saxo attack - there's no need to worry just yet. Contador and Kreuziger have just passed the ditch that Riblon rode into...


ATTACK: Saxo-Tinkoff duo Contador and Kreuziger have edged clear on the downhill - they are taking massive risks!


Van Garderen is riding back towards the leaders after sorting out his chain. He's 42 seconds back.


Now the peloton reach the summit... and it has just started to rain! It's going to be carnage!


Riblon overcooks a tight bend and rides through a bend and into a ditch of water! He doesn't crash but it remains to be seen if he picked up a flat or damaged his wheels there. Hairy moment!


The Rolland/Schleck/Nieve/Poels group have almost caught Sylvain Chavanel, who was part of the initial break. They have now come to the summit of the Sarenne and face that long, winding downhill.


Moser has caught Riblon and the pair are taking on this narrow, sinuous descent very gingerly. The road surface is pretty terrible, even if patches have been relaid recently.


The leading duo are on the infamous descent, which is narrow and potholed. Van Garderen drops his chain and has a clear problem. He has to freewheel for a bit, then stops and waits for the neutral support car. Nightmare for the American.


The Schleck/Rolland group has 2:15 on the peloton, but still trail the leaders by six minutes. Back with the pack, Movistar have come to the front.


ATTACK: Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Sharp has a pop off the front of the pack.


Sky still lead the pack on this narrow track that links Alpe d'Huez and the start of the Col de Sarenne climb. The leaders, Van Garderen and Riblon, are nearing the summit now.


Despite all the earlier fears, the sun in a cloudy sky is out and there's no rain as we approach the hairy Col de Sarenne descent.


Moser has been dropped by Van Garderen and Riblon.


Our leading trio of Riblon, Van Garderen and Moser have reached the Cat.2 Col de Sarenne (3km at 7.8%). Interestingly, there are no fans lining the narrow road - just green, open plains. It's rather beautiful.


The Rolland group has one minute on the peloton. But still trail the leaders by 7:20.


Voeckler is caught by the peloton just after the summit. He looks in a fair bit of pain...


Nieve has attacked the Rolland group! But he's reeled in swiftly...


The three leaders have gone over the summit of the Alpe d'Huez and are on the slight downhill ahead of the Col de Sarenne climb - this is new territory for the Tour de France. Moser took the 25pts ahead of Riblon, van Garderen and Voigt.


The leaders still have 8:15 on the peloton and, given the downhill, it's hard to see them being caught. There will be a shake up with the GC, but they won't be contesting for the win.


Andy Schleck is closing in on the group containing Voeckler, Rolland, Nieve and Poels. And he's now joined them. it's nice to see him back and in competitive shape. Voeckler calls it a day as Schleck whizzes by! One in, one out...


Off the back of the peloton, Kwiatkowski anmd Gautier have popped.


Moser now rides clear of the leading trio! But he then slows to allow them back onto his wheel.


ATTACK: Andy Schleck now edges clear of the peloton. He's going to try and join the Voeckler/Rolland group, which has 25 seconds on the main pack.


Van garderen is caught by Moser and Riblon. They lead Voigt by 35 seconds.


Siutsou peels off the front to leave Sky with three riders in support of Froome: Lopez, Kennaugh and Porte are doing the honours.


ATTACK: Andrew Talansky of Garmin breaks clear of the pack in pursuit of the Voeckler/Rolland group.


Moreno Moser has joined Christophe Riblon in pursuit of Van Garderen. Back with the pack, Andy Schleck stops to make an adjustment with his chain.


Belkin duo Mollema and ten Dam are now on Froome's wheel. The crowds at Dutch corner are so dense that the pace comes right down.


Sky still have four riders helping Chris Froome. Voeckler, Rolland, Laurent Didier (not Schleck!) and Poels ride off ahead - and Mikel Nieve, the polka dot jersey from Euskaltel, attacks off the front in pursuit.


NOW ROLLAND GOES! The Frenchman, winner here in 2011, jumps clear and joins his team-mate Voeckler.


ATTACK: Thomas Voeckler makes his move! Andy Schleck and Wout Poels follow in his wheel.


Riblon gives a topless man a thump after he was running alongside him. The fans are giving them no space at all! Riblon trails Van Garderen by 25 seconds, with Moser/Danielson/Voigt at 40 seconds. The peloton is still eight minutes back.


Thomas Voeckler has cruised up to Pierre Rolland and they're deep in discussion - expect an attack very soon!


Yellow jersey Chris Froome has both Nairo Quintana, the white jersey, and Pierre Rolland, the former polka dot jersey, on his wheel.


We have yet to reach Dutch corner, and Johnny Hoogerland has already been dropped by the pack.


Voigt, Danielson and Moser are riding separately in pursuit of lone leader Van Garderen. The supporters are out in their droves. They say half a million are on the Alpe today...


Cadel Evans of BMC is already off the back. This has been a horror Tour for the Australian. His team-mate is looking great on the front of the race, though. The American still has 7:45 on the pack.


Roche has already been caught by the pack and now Paulinho is next.


Polish youngster Michal Kwiatkowski of Omega Pharma is still very near the front - he's been so impressive this year.


Multiple riders off the back already - including the green jersey Sagan and Rein Taaramae of Cofidis.


Two Sky riders have already been dropped, do we're down to five, with Siutsou and Lopez on the front.


Tejay van Garderen and Christophe Riblon are alone up front after dropping their fellow escapees. They have Jens Voigt in pursuit. Riblon drops now, leaving the young American TVG out in front. Could this be the day he saves his Tour?


Europcar's Pierre Rolland, winner here in 2011 after reeling in an attack from Contador, is near the front of the peloton and poised to strike, it seems.


Sergio Paulinho taps Nico Roche on the back and then powers ahead. The Portuguese will plough ahead now in the hope that he can help out Contador and Kreuziger later... As for Roche, it will be a long ride to the finish...


The main pack have passed through Bourg d'Oisans and are onto the first ascent of Alpe d'Huez. The question is: will we see some attacks from the favourites this first time round or will they wait for the final ascent?


Back with the peloton ahead of the climb, Cannondale make a hash of things and Andre Greipel picks up the 12th place ahead of Peter Sagan at the intermediate sprint - not that that changes anything.


Riblon onto the front for the escapees, with Voigt right on his wheel. The escapees are back together after that slight split, whioch saw Lars Boom take the green jersey points at the intermediate sprint.


The leaders onto the first of two ascents of the HC climb of Alpe d’Huez (12.3km at 8.4%). Here we go!


There's a split in the leading group on the descent, with Chavanel and four others (Boom, Riblon, van Garderen and Moser) slightly ahead of the other four - Jeannesson, Voigt, Danielson and Amador.


There's an intermediate speech at the bottom of this descent and so Peter Sagan and his Cannondale team-mates have come forward. Granted, the points would only be for 12th place given the men up the road, but every little helps...


The peloton cross the summit around eight minutes down.


Roche and Paulinho crest the summit. They're six minutes down on the leaders.


RadioShack, Belkin and Johnny Hoogerland have come to the front alongside Sky on the climb. It will be interesting to see if anyone tries a counter attack on the Ornon.


Arnold Jeannesson takes the KOM points over the summit ahead of Sylvain Chavanel and Jens Voigt. That's 12pts so far today for Jeannesson, who moves into 12th place in the KOM standings. If he crosses the next two in pole position, he will be the polka dot jersey.


Incidentally, Moreno Moser, the Italian from Cannondale, is sporting his 'SNAKE' Fi’zi:k bib shorts. Others include 'BULL' (which is favoured by the green jersey Peter Sagan) and 'CHAMELEON' - although none of the Cannondale boys seem to be favouring the latter.


After such an explosive start to the stage, it has got a bit pedestrian now - which is hardly surprising, what with the two ascents of Alpe d'Huez coming up. The nine leaders now have 8:10 over the peloton and 5:25 over the two chasing Saxo-Tinkoff riders.


The nine leaders are onto the Cat.2 Col d’Ornon (1,371m high; 5.1km at 6.7%).


We're approaching the third climb of the day with Sky still setting the pace ahead of Saxo-Tinkoff. The gap is 7:15.


Van Garderen, who was had the lead in yesterday's ITT before the big guns rolled down the ramp, leads the escapees after dropping back to chat with his BMC team car. The team have had a troubled tour, what with both Van Garderen and Cadel Evans struggling for the overall, and no stage wins coming elsewhere.


Saxo, Astana, Movistar and Europcar are all near the front of the peloton behind Sky. The gap is now seven minutes for the nine leaders. The Saxo chasing duo of Roche and Paulinho trail the leaders by 4:50 and so have 2:10 ob the pack.


Lunch time for the nine leaders, who pass through the feed zone with six and a half minutes to play with over the Sky-led peloton. The sun is still out despite the stormy clouds on the horizon.


With 100km remaining, the nine leaders have 6:40 on the peloton and 5:15 on the Paulinho/Roche chasing duo.


Europcar had intended to make it into the day's main break but their man Thomas Voeckler, who passed over the summit of the opening climb this morning in third place, suffered a mechanical issue and had to drop back to his team car. Remember, Pierre Rolland won on Alpe d'Huez two years ago in stage 19. That year, it was France's first and only win... can history repeat itself?


Andre Greipel regrets putting on a base layer and is now riding with his German national champions jersey off his back as he strips off his under garment to reveal his ripped torso, before putting his jersey back on.


We're onto this undulating section ahead of the third climb of the day, with the road going up and down constantly. Sky and Saxo control the peloton, which trails the break by 6:20. Roche and Paulinho are riding one minute ahead of the main pack.


The French should be excited: Jeannesson and Riblon are decent climbers who could both target the win today. The host nation are still without a win in the 2013 Tour, and yesterday their best placed rider, Jean-Christophe Peraud, crashed out with a broken collarbone. That means the best placed Frenchman is now Peraud's Ag2R team-mate Romain Bardet, the 22-year-old Tour debutant, in 20th place.


Euskaltel are the latest team to sent two riders up the road, but their foray into the unknown doesn't last long before Ian Stannard and the Sky team reel them in on this slight downhill.


The Saxo-Tinkoff duo pass over the summit 5:25 down on the leading nine riders and 15 seconds ahead of the peloton.


Average speed for the first hour of the race was 44.6kmh so this is a fast one.


RadioShack's Laurent Didier tried to follow Roche and Paulinho, but he didn't make any headway, what with the Skybots cranking out 400 watts apiece on the front of the pack,


Tom Danielson crosses the summit of the Rampe de Motty in pole position ahead of Christophe Riblon.


Astana's Alexey Lutsenko has withdrawn from his debut Tour.


ATTACK: There's no reaction from Sky as Saxo-Tinkoff send two men up the road on this short but steep climb. It's Nicolas Roche and Sergio Paulinho.


Sylvain Chavanel is the best placed rider on GC in this leading group - 35'17 down on the yellow jersey. There are three former stage winners in this group - Chavanel, Riblon and Voigt. They have six minutes now.


The nine escapees are onto the second climb of the day, the Cat.3 Rampe du Motty (2.4km at 8%).


All seven remaining Sky riders are on the front, with the entire Saxo-Tinkoff team in their wheels. The gap for the leading Chavanel group is up to five minutes.


It was great to see both Saxo-Tinkoff and Movistar test their legs on the first climb and put Sky under some pressure. It may have come back together now, but it bodes well for the neutrals who want to see some fireworks today.


The first rain drops start to fall on the leaders, who have four minutes now on the peloton.


Yellow jersey Chris Froome is deep in conversation with former Sky team-mate Mick Rogers, now of Saxo-Tinkoff, while Contador is off the back to speak with his team car and make soem alterations with his shoes. Froome then has a long discussion with Richie Porte, who then drops back to chat to Alejandro Valverde... oh, to be a fly on the wall of the peloton.


After a savage opening ascent, order has been restored on the Tour's queen stage: the two pelotons are back together after the early split on the Col du Manse. The pack trails the break of the day by 2:10.


The leaderas are: Jens Voigt (RadioShack), Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ), Christophe Riblon (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Lars Boom (Belkin), Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Moreno Moser (Cannondale). They have 1:30 over the peloton, which is now being controlled by Team Sky.


A group of nine riders has formed around Chavanel off the front of the pack. Christophe Riblon, Arnold Jeannesson and Lars Boom are there.


This slight descent has allowed the race to get back together somewhat. The peloton is extremely strung out but it is no longer as thin up front as before. There is a second peloton, however, riding at one minute to the main pack with the yellow jersey. Dan Martin, who won stage nine, is in this group after being distanced on the first climb.


Once over the top, Sylvain Chavanel starts to power along on his specal limited edition orange Specialized steed. This has been a frenetic opening to the stage!


Hesjedal passes over the summit in pole position, but he has just 30 metres to play with. Meanwhile, after a frantic opening, it appears to have come back together. What was a small leading group is now a peloton of around 60-odd riders, which more joining. Arnold Jeannesson crosses for second place ahead of Thomas Voeckler.


Canada's Ryder Hesjedal attacks! Last year's Giro winner opens up a small ga[p on the front.


Now Contador has a pop! Froome covers him and we have about 20 riders now on the front of the race - including Froome, Contador, Kwiatkowski, Quintana, Valverde and two other Movistar riders. Kreuziger doesn't appear to be here...


QUINTANA ATTACKS! It's just a little acceleration but already it has blown the field apart - and Froome has no team-mates with him after Richie Porte appears to blow up.


Cadel Evans has a pop off the front too, but was reeled in. But now it's his BMC team-mate Van Garderen who leads a small group of five riders off the front.


Sky are concerned about this and have sent Peter Kennaugh to the front. The youngster manages to reel in Hernandez. Riders are already being blown off the back - the likes of Jonathan Hivert, who finished last on the Ventoux, and even Thomas De Gendt are already in trouble.


ATTACK: Saxo-Tinkoff send Jesus Hernandez up the road. It's kicking off already! The Spaniard has Brice Feillu (Sojasun) in pursuit...


It's back together as one as the peloton reach the first of five climbs on the menu: the Cat.2 Col de Manse (6.6km at 6.2%). They're going up in the opposite direction as the other day when Contador crashed on the descent...


Puncture for Euskaltel's Ruben Perez, who drops back to change a wheel.


Jens Voigt (RadioShack) is also having a pop, along with birthday boy Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) who is 27 today. But it's coming back together.


ATTACK: Straight away there's an acceleration from Dutch national champion Johnny Hoogerland of Vacansoleil-DCM, who sparks a response from numerous riders...


They're off! Christian Prudhomme waves the flag and the remaining 177 riders get this Queen Stage under way...


The riders are currently rolling through the neutral zone ahead of this all-important stage. After more than a fortnight of blue skies and blazing sunshine, yesterday saw the first rain fall on the 2013 Tour. Rain is forecast today as well, which would make that descent of the Col du Sarenne fairly testing. There was talk of cancelling the second ascent of Alpe d'Huez over fears for rider safety - but for the time being the weather is cloudy but holding up and the stage goes ahead as planner.


Slovakia's Peter Sagan (Cannondale) has all but sewn up the green jersey for the second successive year after one stage win and four runner-up spots. He leads Britain's Mark Cavendish (OPQS) by 99 points and only a crash or withdrawal through illness could see Sagan beaten to green in Paris.


The best young rider is that man Quintana, with Movistar's Colombian climber leading Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Kwiatkowski by 4:12 on GC. American Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) is third as 8:15.


Today is bound to see a shake up in the king of the mountain standings with a total of 75 points available over the last two summits of the day - the dual climb of Alpe d'Huez. Yellow jersey Froome leads the standings on 88 points ahead of white jersey Nairo Quintana on 69 points, which means third place Mikel Nieve of Euskaltel once again wears the polka dot jersey, despite being only third on the standings on 53 points.


Froome extended his lead over Contador to 4:25 in the overall standings although his Spanish rival and team-mate Roman Kreuziger both moved aboive Dutchman Bauke Mollema on GC after the Belkin rider conceded two minutes in the ITT to drop to fourth place. With Jean-Christophe Peraud withdrawing with a broken collarbone after a double crash yesterday, Polish all-rounder Michal Kwiatkowski moves back into the top ten. Rodriguez also rose to sixth place at the expense of Dutchman Laurens ten Dam.


Yesterday, Chris Froome put yet another stamp of authority on the race with victory in the mountain time trial from Embrun to Chorges. The British rider from Team Sky trailed at each split, but benefited from a bike change atop the final climb to come home nine seconds quicker than Saxo-Tinkoff's Alberto Contador and a further second faster than Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha. It was Froome's third victory in the race after his previous triumphs at Ax3 Domaines and Mont Ventoux. Can he make it 4?


Welcome to live coverage of stage 18 of the Tour de France - the one we've all been waiting for: a 172.5km trek through the mountains from Gap, concluding with the first ever double ascent in Tour de France history. This really is the showpiece of the 100th edition of the race, with the famous 21 hairpin bends of the 'Dutch Mountain' coming either side of a long and treacherous descent of the Col du Sarenne. Buckle up and brace yourselves for the ride...