Barguil wins Izoard stage, Froome keeps yellow

Col d’Izoard, France: Frenchman Warren Barguil won his second stage of the Tour de France on the imposing Col d’Izoard on Thursday as compatriot Romain Bardet snatched back four seconds from overall leader Chris Froome.
Bardet finished third on the day to take some bonus seconds that lifted him above Rigoberto Uran into second overall and closed the gap to Froome to 23sec. Colombian Darwin Atapuma finished second, 20sec behind Barguil with Bardet winning the sprint for third against Froome and Uran.
But with only Saturday’s time-trial left in which to make a significant difference to the standings, reigning champion Froome looks set to claim a fourth Tour de France title.
“I’m happy to have passed the Alps without problems this year,” said Froome, 32. “The Alps are always the toughest for me. Now I’m looking forward to the time-trial in Marseille and we’ll see.”
It was a thrilling battle on the final hours category climb at the end of the 179.5 km Alpine 18th stage from Briancon to the Col d’Izoard.
Atapuma was part of an original 54-man breakaway that splintered over the two huge climbs of the day. He reeled in Kazakh Alexey Lutsenko halfway up the Izoard climb while the peloton led by Bardet’s AG2R team, at one point eight minutes back, started to close in.
Barguil made his move with 6 km to go but still had two minutes to make up on Atapuma, catching him with 1.4 km left and leaving him behind inside the final kilometre to win the first ever stage finish on the Izoard.
“I’m just living in my dream at the moment, it’s just crazy,” said Barguil, who also won the 13th stage on Bastille Day, the French national holiday.
“After a lot of bad luck I’ve shown finally my real potential to everybody.”
‘In the clouds’
Barguil, who had already sewn up the king of the mountains polkadot jersey earlier in the day, leapt above two-time former winner Alberto Contador into ninth overall. “I’m still in the clouds, I’ve left the earth,” said Barguil.
“It’s an exceptional day, I never imagined I could win on the Izoard.”
Behind that, Bardet launched an attack 3 km from the finish but Froome and Colombian Uran stuck to him like glue. Briton Froome attacked next but couldn’t stay clear and once they hit the final kilometre it was a battle of wills to the line at a vertiginous 2,360-metres above sea level. “I tried to distance Rigoberto Uran and Romain Bardet but it was almost impossible today,” added Froome. — AFP

Results from Tour de France (Briancon – Col d’Izoard, 179.5 km) on Thursday
1. Warren Barguil (France/Team Sunweb) 4:40:33”, 2. Darwin Atapuma (Colombia/UAE Team Emirates) +20”, 3. Romain Bardet (France/AG2R La Mondiale), 4. Chris Froome (Britain/Team Sky), 5. Rigoberto Uran (Colombia/Cannondale-Drapac) +22”, 6. Mikel Landa (Spain/Team Sky) +32”, 7. Louis Meintjes (South Africa/UAE Team Emirates) +37”, 8. Daniel Martin (Ireland/Quick-Step Floors) +39”, 9. Simon Yates (Britain/Orica-Scott) +59”, 10. Alberto Contador (Spain/Trek-Segafredo) +1:09”, 11. Nairo Quintana (Colombia/Movistar Team) +1:18”, 12. Carlos Betancur (Colombia/Movistar Team) +1:22”, 13. Fabio Aru (Italy/Astana Pro Team), 14. Tony Gallopin (France/Lotto-Soudal) +1:37”, 15. Brice Feillu (France/Fortuneo-Oscaro) +1:54”, 16. Mikel Nieve (Spain/Team Sky) +2:15”, 17. Alexey Lutsenko (Kazakhstan/Astana Pro Team) +2:54”, 18. Andrew Talansky (US/Cannondale-Drapac) +3:01”, 19. Bauke Mollema (Netherlands/Trek-Segafredo), 20. Serge Pauwels (Belgium/Team Dimension Data) +3:04”
Classification after stage 18
1. Chris Froome (Britain/Team Sky) 78:08:19”, 2. Romain Bardet (France/AG2R La Mondiale) +23”, 3. Rigoberto Uran (Colombia/Cannondale-Drapac) +29”, 4. Mikel Landa (Spain/Team Sky) +1:36”, 5. Fabio Aru (Italy/Astana Pro Team) +1:55”, 6. Daniel Martin (Ireland/Quick-Step Floors) +2:56”, 7. Simon Yates (Britain/Orica-Scott) +4:46”, 8. Louis Meintjes (South Africa/UAE Team Emirates) +6:52”, 9. Warren Barguil (France/Team Sunweb) +8:22”, 10. Alberto Contador (Spain/Trek-Segafredo) +8:34”, 11. Nairo Quintana (Colombia/Movistar Team) +13:52”, 12. Mikel Nieve (Spain/Team Sky) +23:11”, 13. Alexis Vuillermoz (France/AG2R La Mondiale) +23:33”, 14. Brice Feillu (France/Fortuneo-Oscaro) +35:06”, 15. Carlos Betancur (Colombia/Movistar Team) +36:25”, 16. Serge Pauwels (Belgium/Team Dimension Data) +37:31”, 17. Tiesj Benoot (Belgium/Lotto-Soudal) +40:49”, 18. Bauke Mollema (Netherlands/Trek-Segafredo) +47:03”, 19. Tony Gallopin (France/Lotto-Soudal) +52:39”, 20. Marco Minnaard (Netherlands/Wanty-Groupe Gobert) +1:45:02”