La Roche-sur-Foron, France, Sep 17 (efe-epa).- Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski and Ecuadorian rider Richard Carapaz led their Ineos Grenadiers team to triumph here Thursday in Stage 18 of the Tour de France, while Primoz Roglic of Slovenia retained the yellow jersey as the overall leader.
The two men broke away with 60km (37mi) left on the 175km route from Meribel to La Roche-sur-Foron. As they approached the finish line, Tour newcomer Carapaz held back to allow Kwiatkowski his first-ever stage win in the event.
The 30-year-old Pole, a world road race champion, was dubbed “super-domestique” for his efforts as a member of what was then called Team Sky on behalf of the Tour de France winners in 2017 and 2018, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, respectively.
Sky-Ineos have dominated the Tour since 2012, but their leader, defending champion Egan Bernal, withdrew from this year’s race on Wednesday after falling out of contention.
Besides the stage win, Ineos saw Carapaz, victor in the 2019 Giro d’Italia, put on the polka-dot jersey as the leader in the king of the mountains competition.
Next across the line on Thursday was Belgium’s Wout van Aert (Jumbo Visma), two seconds ahead of team leader Roglic and the man in second place in the General Classification, Slovenian rider Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates).
Five men in the GC top 10 were among the seven riders who finished 2 seconds behind the Slovenian duo.
Roglic maintained an edge of 57 seconds over Pogacar and 1:27 over Colombia’s Miguel “Superman” Angel Lopez (Astana), while Australian veteran Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) held steady in fourth.
Spaniards Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) and Enric Mas (Movistar) moved up to claim the fifth and sixth spots, pushing Briton Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) down to seventh.
Colombian rider Rigoberto Uran (EF Pro Cycling) climbed to eighth in the GC. Ninth and 10th were unchanged, as Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) and Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) kept their places.
At 40, Valverde is the oldest competitor in the 2020 Tour de France.
One of the breakout stars of this year’s Tour, Swiss rider Marc Hirschi (Sunweb), who has won a stage and come close on two other occasions, kept within striking distance of Kwiatkowski and Carapaz until he took a tumble on the descent of the Col des Saisies, the third of Thursday’s five climbs.
“That was some day. I can’t describe how grateful I am to the whole team and to Richard,” Kwiatkowski said after taking the stage.
“It was an incredible day for us, and I will never forget that. I’ve had some nice moments in cycling but that was something new. I had goose bumps for the last kilometers because I knew that the gap was so big that we would make it,” he said. EFE soc/dr