The day after the queen stage of the Tour de France, part of the peloton was hoping to recover on Thursday during stage 18. This was only partially the case. Towards Bourg-en-Bresse, a breakaway of three then four riders gave the peloton a lot of trouble, and even went on to fight for the win. Kasper Asgreen took victory while David Gaudu and Thibaut Pinot finished in the bunch. The breakaway should have its chance tomorrow again towards Poligny.
On Thursday, the Tour de France finally moved away from the Alps, after having spent a few very trying days over there. The riders headed North-West, to Bourg-en-Bresse, and although the profile wasn’t completely flat, it still suited the sprinters. This is also why only three men took the lead once the start was given. Kasper Asgreen, Victor Campenaerts and Jonas Abrahamsen quickly formed a trio of fugitives, and the peloton was happy to let them go while keeping them within sight. The lead of the breakaway actually never reached the two-minute mark on Thursday. In the second half of the course, the gap was even reduced to under one minute when approaching the Côte de Boissieu, where the peloton got a bit nervous. Approaching the summit, Quentin Pacher went on the attack. “The fact that the sprinters’ teams keep the breakaway less than a minute away obviously makes you want to jump across, come back to the breakaway and work together to go as far as possible”, explained the Frenchman. “A few guys had the same idea on the last hill. Unfortunately, the sprinters’ teams were really careful at that time, and it was hard to take a gap. Pascal Eenkhoorn went a bit after, and it was the good move”.
“It was a very fast day”, Thibaut Pinot
The Dutchman joined his teammate Campenaerts and the other two fugitives, and a quartet then began a proper fight against the peloton. More teams and riders came to pull within the bunch in the last hour, but the breakaway showed good resistance and kept a twenty-second lead into the last ten kilometres. The gap was further reduced at the flamme rouge, but it proved to be enough for Asgreen to take the win, just ahead of the sprinters. “Chapeau to them”, said Quentin Pacher. “It’s good when the bold moves succeed.” “We thought the breakaway could go all the way, but the good move actually went very early”, added Philippe. “Quentin then tried but didn’t prove successful. It’s a pity because it’s a missed opportunity, but on the other hand, we can’t blame the guys after the efforts they made on the previous days”. David Gaudu and Thibaut Pinot finished in the main peloton with four of their teammates. “It was a very fast day, and we expected it because we knew it was the last chance for some riders,” explained the 33-year-old climber. No change occurred in the general classification on Thursday while another “breakaway” stage will take the riders to Poligny tomorrow. “It’s going to be a very lively race and I think there will be a lot of action until everyone is dead,” predicts Quentin.