27 July, 2014
Stage 18 : Pau - Hautacam, 145 km
Nibali strikes to deliver fourth win.
Nibali effectviley crowned himslef champion with an emphatic solo win on Hautacam. FDJ.fr's Thibau Pinot secired a podium place while Tinkoff Saxo's Rafal Majka claimed and insurmountable lead in the Polka Dot jersey.
20 riders in the lead
The first attacker of the day, Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar), was reined in after five kilometres of racing. Daniel Oss (BMC) and Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp) took over from him at the front are were reinforced at km 13 to form a front group of 20 riders : Mikel Nieve (Sky), Jesus Herrada and Jon Izaguirre (Movistar), Yuriy Trofimov (Katusha), Alessandro De Marchi and Marco Marcato (Cannondale), Lars Boom (Belkin), Jan Bakelants (OPQS), Blel Kadri (AG2R), Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Daniel Oss (BMC), Bryan Coquard, Kévin Reza and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Julien Simon (Cofidis), Sylvain Chavanel and Marcel Wyss (IAM), Bartosz Huzarski and Tiago Machado (NetApp) and Florian Guillou (Bretagne). They reached a maximum advantage of 4.12 after 35km of racing. The Astana team of race leader Vincenzo Nibali kept a high pace at the head of the peloton.
Kadri claims the Souvenir Jacques-Goddet
The 20 escapees started climbing to the col du Tourmalet with an advantage of 3.50. Sylvain Chavanel rode away solo 10km before the summit. One kilometre further, he was passed by Kadri and Nieve and couldn’t hold their rhythm. The leading duo kept an advantage of 4.25 over the yellow jersey group at the top where Kadri won the Souvenir Jacques-Goddet in memory of the longest serving Tour de France director. Runner up Alejandro Valverde attacked at the beginning of the downhill. Awaited by his team-mates Izaguire and Herrada who were part of the breakaway, the Spaniard faced a head wind in the valley and got reined in with 29km to go.
Nibali performs a one-man show in Hautacam
With 12.2km to go, Nieve rode Kadri off but Michele Scarponi led the yellow jersey group strongly, only 1.15 behind. Chris Horner was the first man to attack from the peloton of the GC contenders with 10km to go but Nibali was prompt to jump on his wheel. The race continued on his own and overtook Nieve with 8km to go. With 7km to go, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) was next to pass the Spaniard from Team Sky who was awarded the most aggressive rider price of the day. Nibali continued his one man show all the way to Hautacam while Thibaut Pinot’s attack with 6km to go was decisive in his fights against Valverde for the final podium and Bardet for the best young rider classification. Van Garderen and Péraud were the only riders able to follow the FDJ.fr climber. Pinot claimed a valuable second place and moved into second overall as he dethroned Valverde who slipped to fourth ahead of the crucial closing time trial while Majka secured the polka dot jersey.