Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 24th 2015 Contents A50
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Froome is halfway through the Alps, the
last obstacle to his second Tour de France
victory, after comfortably maintaining his
race lead on a Stage 18 won in style by
Romain Bardet yesterday.
Bardet rode alone down the huge Glandon
pass and up the 18 hairpin bends of the
Montvernier Laces, previously unclimbed
by the Tour, to take a solo victory at Saint-
Jean-De-Maurienne on the second of four
days in the Alps, the last big test before the
finish in Paris on Sunday. Pierre Rolland
of the Europcar team made it a 1-2 French
finish, coming in 33 seconds behind the
winner for AG2R La Mondiale.
As they did on the first Alpine stage on
Wednesday, Froome s rivals again tested
the Team Sky rider but couldn t make him
crack over seven climbs.
"Everyone attacked," Froome said.
Two-time champion Alberto Contador
showed spirit, with a burst of speed on the
22-kilometre (14-mile) long climb up to
the Glandon pass, but he couldn t claw
back the minutes he lost on Wednesday in
"One of the hardest days for me," Con-
tador said. "I was in pain."
Froome, Contador, and other podium
contenders finished together in a group of
ten riders who rode in three minutes behind
Bardet, who remains too far down the over-
all standings ---in tenth place, nearly 13
minutes back from Froome---to have real-
istic ambitions for the podium this year.
But, at age 24, the second French stage
winner confirmed that he is a big talent
for the future. He placed sixth at the Tour
last year. He hasn t been consistent enough
to improve on that this year, but he is the
highest-placed French rider so far.
Bardet rode away at the top of the pun-
ishing Glandon climb---the hardest Alpine
ascent so far---and built a lead on the long
descent. He held it up the Montvernier
Laces, where the road spaghettis back and
forth in a spectacular series of switch-
"A crazy stage," Bardet said. "I can t
The hairpins are so narrow that police
stopped fans from lining the road there as
they do elsewhere, making the telegenic
ascent eerily quiet. But a cheering crowd
waiting from Bardet at the top gave him
a burst of energy to the finish.
"I had goosebumps," he said.
Froome remains three minutes, ten sec-
onds ahead of second-placed Nairo Quin-
tana, and 4:09 ahead of the Colombian s
Movistar teammate, Alejandro Valverde.
Froome identifies those two as the riders
he must watch most closely over last two
days in the Alps, especially since they could
work together against him on the very
tough climbs. The crescendo will come
Saturday on the 21-hairpin bends to the
Alpe d Huez ski station that will be teeming
"It s the last challenge," said Froome.
"We can really expect it to be a big finale."
The Tour has covered 3,000 kilometres
(1,865 miles). Chances have nearly run out
for Froome s rivals to try to dislodge the
2013 winner. And he says he feels stronger
than he did at the same point two years
"Two more stages left of real racing," he
said. "This time two years ago I was just
sort of hanging on." (AP)
Two down, two to go for Froome
Robert Gesink of the Netherlands leads the group of riders
with Spain's Alberto Contador, in second position, Spain's
Alejandro Valverde, second right, Italy's Vincenzo Nibali,
rear right, and Britain's Chris Froome, hidden in the group,
during the eighteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling
race over 186.5 kilometres (115.9 miles) with start in Gap
and finish in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, France . AP PHOTO
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