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93rd Tour de France - ProT

France, July 1-23, 2006

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Stage 18 - Friday, July 21: Morzine - Mâcon, 197 km

Live Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan, Hedwig Kröner and Brecht Decaluwé

Live report

Live coverage starts: 12:40 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:10 CEST

23:22 CEST   
A classic transitional stage heading west out of the Alpes from Morzine with three rated climbs including the Col de Berthiand with 66km to go. The Tour's GC is not likely to change much, as the favourites will want to rest their legs for Saturday's ITT. With the rest of the Tour peloton dog-tired, this will be a stage where strong riders can get in a break and hang on until the end. Will Chris Horner finally score a stage win in Mâcon in the heart of the Burgundy wine region?

12:46 CEST   
Welcome to Morzine for our live coverage of the 2006 Tour de France, which has been one of the most fascinating Tours of the last 20 years. On Wednesday, we saw top favourite Floyd Landis seemingly bow out of the race on the way to La Toussuire, losing over 8 minutes to Oscar Pereiro and putting himself well out of the reach of the yellow jersey. But yesterday, Floyd put in an audacious attack on the first climb of the day to close a 10 minute gap to the breakaway up the road, before riding them off his wheel one by one. And by the time he came down into Morzine, he still had an amazing 5'40 over second placed Carlos Sastre and 7'08 on Pereiro, putting himself back in contention for the GC! It certainly wasn't a conservative ride.

So after a very topsy-turvy Tour, there is one man - a dark horse if you will - that I am tipping to win: Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile). He showed he is the strongest time trialist in the race by winning stage 7, beating Landis quite comfortably. Sure, he's nearly two hours down on GC, but he could probably get that back today with a well timed move halfway through the stage. Then, bang! He strikes in tomorrow's TT. A brilliant strategy.

Either that or everyone will play it softly in today's stage and let a break go away until the finish. Sigh.

Climbs today: Côte de Châtillon-en-Michaille (km 98, Cat. 3, 5.1 km climb at 3.7 %), Col du Berthiand (km 130.5, Cat. 2, 4.7 km climb at 6 %), Côte de Chambod (km 139.5, Cat. 4, 1.9 km climb at 6.4 %).

Sprints: La Tour (km 29.5) and Polliat (km 169.5).

12:49 CEST   
The temps are already 30 degrees as the peloton completes 2.7 km of neutral riding before the flag drops for the start of stage 18. And they're off!

12:52 CEST   
Oscar Freire (Rabobank) was a non starter today. He is sick and is on his way home. That gives Robbie McEwen (Davitamon) a practically unbeatable lead in the points competition: 80 points over Erik Zabel (Milram) in second place.

12:55 CEST    4km/193km to go
David Millar (Saunier Duval), Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery) and Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ) are the first riders to launch an attack. Moreni, Gilbert and Paolini chase them, but are caught. The three leaders are 28 seconds clear.

12:56 CEST    5km/192km to go
The lead drops back to 15 seconds, as the peloton cranks into action. We're on!

13:00 CEST    7km/190km to go
The gap stays at 15 seconds as Millar, Popo and Vaugrenard try to make their escape stick. Popovych is the best placed on GC, but is nearly 49 minutes down. Nah...

13:02 CEST   
Vaugrenard drops out of the break, leaving just Millar and Popovych dangling in front with 18 seconds.

13:06 CEST    15km/182km to go
The two in front are now 25 seconds ahead of the field. There could be some interest in the first bonus sprint at km 29.5.

13:08 CEST    18km/179km to go
And David Millar and Yaroslav Popovych look to be away! They have 1'20 on the field now, as they head towards Matringes.

13:15 CEST    24km/173km to go
No, they're not clear yet. The peloton has wound it up in anticipation of the first sprint, and the two out in front are just 25 seconds up the road.

13:18 CEST    26km/171km to go
Lang and Quinziato try to get across to Popovych and Millar, but can't make the bridge. The bunch gets to within 20 seconds of the leaders...

13:22 CEST    29km/168km to go
The leaders might stay away until the sprint. The gap is 15 seconds, as they come into La Tour.

13:27 CEST    33km/164km to go
And Popovych takes the sprint ahead of Millar, with McEwen third at 18 seconds. No time bonuses for Pereiro, Sastre or Landis in that one.

13:30 CEST   
Just after the sprint, the two leaders are caught. The gap was too close, even though they weren't particularly dangerous for GC.

13:34 CEST    38km/159km to go
The bunch rolls along together for a while, waiting for the next attack.

Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) is one rider who will be looking for a breakaway. "Today I want to be in an escape, a breakaway, but the legs will decide on that. The motivation is there so I’ll try for sure," the French rider told Cyclingnews.

13:37 CEST    42km/155km to go
The peloton passes 42 km and this could be a record average speed in the first hour, as it's been a little downhill with a moderate tailwind.

13:40 CEST    45km/152km to go
Sylvain Calzati (AG2R) is the next rider to have a go. He won stage 8 in a breakaway, and is obviously on the hunt for another victory. But he is caught.

13:41 CEST   
We spoke to T-Mobile's Michael Rogers this morning, and he was definitely feeling the effects of yesterday's third Alpine marathon. Did he expect lots of attacks today? "I hope not because I’m still tired after yesterday’s stage. I was pretty bad but I’m not disappointed because I’m still in the top ten in GC although I worked a lot for Klöden. I will be happy if we see Paris."

13:43 CEST    47km/150km to go
A group of 15 riders peels itself off the front, creating a 15 second gap between it and the bunch.

13:47 CEST    50km/147km to go
The breakaway is now just 10 seconds ahead of the bunch, where Lampre is riding hard in pursuit. 50 clicks gone, and we're still in the first hour.

13:53 CEST    55km/142km to go
The riders in the break: Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel), David Zabriskie (Team CSC), Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Sylvain Calzati (AG2R-Prevoyance), Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), Matteo Tosatto (Quick-Step-Innergetic), Sébastien Hinault (Crédit Agricole), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Cristian Moreni (Cofidis), Benoît Vaugrenard (Française Des Jeux), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom).

They have 55 seconds.

13:55 CEST   
Leipheimer is the best placed on GC at 22'01, so it's not a big threat - at the moment!

14:05 CEST   
The lead goes up to 3'30 as this break will go all the way.

14:06 CEST   
The average speed after the first hour is 52 km/h! That's a record in this year's Tour.

14:13 CEST   
"I think that a break will go through today, but who will be in it, I don't know," Patrik Sinkewitz told Cyclingnews this morning (he's in the break, removing any doubt). "The first 50-60 km will be very fast again."

Will T-Mobile be able to surprise yet? "I hope so."

What was it like riding behind Floyd Landis yesterday? "I thought that maybe he had a motor hidden somewhere! Usually when you're on someone's wheel, you can spare some energy, but I just couldn't yesterday. I was constantly in the red."

14:14 CEST    70km/127km to go
70 km covered and the leading break has 3'50 over the peloton. One of these riders should win today.

14:19 CEST   
Michael Rasmussen commented on the tactics yesterday, when everyone gave Floyd Landis 9 minutes before CSC and T-Mobile started to help out Caisse d'Epargne. "It wasn't really up to us to chase him," said Rasmussen to Cyclingnews. "We're not the ones who have the Tour favourite in our ranks. But I think there are definitely some other teams who made a huge tactical error yesterday."

We asked the polkadot jersey wearer what would happen today? "It might be possible to take the yellow jersey today [laughs]. No, I think there are a lot of teams and riders who haven't had anything yet, and today is their last chance. So it will be a very hard start for sure, but as soon as the break is gone, nobody will be bothered any more and it will be relatively easy. But then again, there's still the team classification up for grabs."

14:21 CEST    75km/122km to go
The lead stabilises a bit at 3'45. It was a fast start, but things are settling down now.

14:26 CEST    80km/117km to go
The leaders are 5 km from the feed in Leaz, with 4'00 over the main bunch.

14:30 CEST   
We spoke to Cadel Evans this morning, and asked him what he thought of Landis' attack yesterday. "When Floyd went, I thought 'what the hell is he doing?' Tactically it seemed like the sensible thing to do, but I didn't think he had the legs. Nobody did. He went so fast from the start he rode the whole peloton off his wheel."

Any plans to attack today? "No plans at this stage."

14:30 CEST   
David Lopez Garcia (Euskaltel) has abandoned, leaving 141 riders in the race.

14:33 CEST   
The lead is up to 4'25 as the break of 15 passes through the feed zone. The first climb is another 8 km away.

14:34 CEST   
Chris Horner (Davitamon-Lotto) predicted a relatively quiet stage. "Today, the favourites are going to wait," he told us. "Top 10 GC guys won't do anything. You couldn't do anything today, you'd have four teams chasing, and then you'd be tired for the TT tomorrow. But all the other guys off the top 10 will be attacking like crazy. Unless we get like huge crosswinds, then something could happen with GC, but I don't think that's the case."

14:38 CEST    88km/109km to go
The leaders take on food, looking to see what yummy goodies they have in store today. "Where's that burger I ordered?"

14:43 CEST    93km/104km to go
It ain't over yet...the stage, that is. There is a bit of chasing going on in the peloton performed by Saunier Duval and Lampre. The gap comes back to 3'42 as the leaders reach the mighty Côte de Châtillon-en-Michaille (5.1 km climb at 3.7 %).

14:47 CEST    96km/101km to go
Zabriskie drops to the back of the break, which sits 3'30 ahead of the peloton. Calzati leads on the climb, which is fairly flat in this section.

14:52 CEST    98km/99km to go
The leaders reach the top of the climb, with Aerts leading Zabriskie, Hinault and Calzati over the top for the points. No-one sprinted for that, not even former mountains leader Jerome Pineau.

The bunch is led by Saunier Duval with a Lampre rider helping too.

14:53 CEST   
After two hours, the average is a brisk 48.4 km/h.

13th overall, Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole) told Cyclingnews this morning, "I haven’t had a good Tour de France but I showed that I’m able to follow in the mountains. I wanted to be in the top ten and I’m thirteenth overall so that’s not too far away from where I wanted to be."

14:58 CEST    103km/94km to go
Simoni leads the peloton to the top of the climb, working pretty hard. Neither Saunier Duval nor Lampre have won a stage, so they're interested in bringing the break back well before the finish.

15:02 CEST   
Floyd Landis looks happy in the peloton after his ride yesterday. He's still got that bidon in his hand to cool himself down as he sits behind former teammate Pereiro. He used 70 bidons yesterday: either pouring them on his head or drinking them. It pays to keep cool and hydrated, especially when it's over 30 degrees. It's absolutely critical, actually.

15:04 CEST   
Landis told Cyclingnews at the start, "I think today will be manageable. If we have to control, we will do it. I think everything will be settled in the TT. You never know when you have a bad day, but I should be ok."

We asked him about his podium sunglasses, and he just started laughing with teammate Robert Hunter. "They protect my eyes from the sun, they work pretty well," said Floyd with a big grin on his face.

15:06 CEST    108km/89km to go
The gap is down to 3'20 as the leaders continue to tap out a hard rhythm in front. Saunier Duval will want to pull it back to less than a minute before the next climb, which starts at km 125. That's a cat. 2 ascent and may give Millar another chance to get away.

15:07 CEST   
A puncture for Erik Zabel, who gets a rear wheel change and is chasing on behind the Quick.Step car.

15:08 CEST   
Simoni is on the front of the bunch, working in the yellow train. Behind him, Lobato asks one of his teammates to maybe go back for more bidons.

15:11 CEST    112km/85km to go
Flecha does another turn in the break, powering it along the sunbaked roads. The gap is falling, but slowly. 3'17.

15:16 CEST    116km/81km to go
The peloton passes a beautifully inviting lake, but there's no time for a swim yet. They're on a fairly big road here.

The break goes through Les Neyrolles rolling along at 50 km/h. Leipheimer tucks on a small descent as they ride under a high autoroute bridge.

15:18 CEST    117km/80km to go
The chase is having approximately zero effect. The gap hovers at 3'20 +/-, which is quite comfortable for the leaders. 10 km from the next climb.

15:20 CEST   
Rabobank's Joost Posthuma spoke to us at the start today. "There will be a breakaway but no favourites will feature in it because they aren't going to let them go away today. Landis will want to control the race more and that will be possible because it will not be as hard as the last few days."

About himself, "I'm not feeling my best anymore but that's probably the same for everyone."

15:26 CEST    123km/74km to go
Along another even more inviting lake (Lac de Nantua), the Saunier Duval men are still chasing hard, with Lampre's Tiralongo helping them. Behind them sit Oscar Pereiro and his merrie Caisse d'Epargne men, enjoying a bit of a break today. They'll probably be thankful of that after riding themselves into the ground yesterday.

15:28 CEST    125km/72km to go
It's still 3'24 as the 15 in front have more firepower than the seven or eight chasers behind. The leaders go through Nurieux.

15:32 CEST    126km/71km to go
The leaders are now on the Col du Berthiand (Cat. 2, 4.7 km climb at 6 %). Calzati sets a smooth tempo in front.

15:33 CEST   
The peloton is on the climb now, with Saunier Duval in front.

The break reaches a steeper part of the climb, and the pace slows. The gap is still 3'20.

15:35 CEST   
Leipheimer takes over in front with Tosatto and Calzati. The peloton races around a hairpin, led by Gilberto Simoni, who checks back to see where his teammates are.

15:38 CEST    129km/68km to go
Calzati looks good on the climb as he sets tempo, as the bunch rides past a stall selling flags. Frank Schleck is near the front for CSC, keeping an eye on things.

15:41 CEST    130km/67km to go
Calzati leads all the way to the top of the Berthiand, with Tosatto sitting in second and Scholz third, then Quinziato and Martinez. The leaders once again:

Levi Leipheimer (best on GC at 22'01), Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner), Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel), David Zabriskie (Team CSC), Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Sylvain Calzati (AG2R-Prevoyance), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), Matteo Tosatto (Quick-Step-Innergetic), Sébastien Hinault (Crédit Agricole), Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Cristian Moreni (Cofidis), Benoît Vaugrenard (Française Des Jeux), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom).

15:45 CEST    133km/64km to go
In the peloton, Rinero nearly takes out a spectator as he goes off the road for a bit. Phonak is also on the front, while Kessler moves up too to grab a bidon from a soigneur. At the top of the climb, it's De La Fuente and Brard leading over at 3'40. If they're chasing, it ain't working.

The leaders are close to 90km/h on the descent.

15:48 CEST   
The leaders are on the next climb, the cat. 4 Côte de Chambod (1.9 km climb at 6.4 %).

15:52 CEST    140km/57km to go
The two Gerolsteiners work on the front of the break with Leipheimer taking the points from Scholz and Vaugrenard. That's the last climb of the day, and they still have a 3'11 lead on the bunch.

15:57 CEST    142km/55km to go
The break hasn't got away yet. The peloton, still led by Saunier Duval and Lampre, has them pegged at 3'07. A bunch sprint today??

16:00 CEST    145km/52km to go
Sylvain Calzati sense the danger and attacks, just like he did in stage 8 to Lorient, but Moreni brings the break back to him. almost. Then Martinez jumps across.

16:02 CEST    147km/50km to go
The break reforms on a small climb, with Flecha looking to be in trouble. Calzati attacks again from the front, but Leipheimer is right on his wheel. Then Isasi has a go.

16:03 CEST   
Leipheimer gets across to Isasi, and the two get a 16 second gap to the rest of the break. There's a counter from Martinez and Aerts. But they are marked heavily.

16:06 CEST    149km/48km to go
Pineau is the next to try and get across to Leipheimer and Isasi. He'll have a hard time though. They pass the rather fine Château de Bohas.

Pineau realises the futility of it all and goes back to the break.

16:08 CEST    151km/46km to go
Isasi looks to have a wasp or other stingy insect in his jersey. He's flapping it around, trying to get rid of it.

The two leaders have 30 seconds on the rest of the break, and 4'03 on the bunch. They ride through Ceyzeriat.

16:16 CEST    157km/40km to go
The bunch scares some cows as it rides past.

Leipheimer and Isasi work well together, but still only have 28 seconds, and the bunch is at 4'21.

McEwen sprints off the front of the bunch and yells at the race moto to get further ahead off the front of the peloton. He's obviously not interested in a bunch sprint.

16:17 CEST    159km/38km to go
McEwen certainly can't lose the points jersey as there simply aren't enough points left in the final two and a bit stages. So maybe he wants Aerts to stay in contention for the stage win. Or maybe he's just concerned with preserving the fairness of the race.

16:19 CEST    160km/37km to go
The leading pair now have 34 seconds as Leipheimer time trials ahead of Isasi. The break is working behind to try to catch them, but the chase isn't that effective.

16:20 CEST   
By the way, Jan Ullrich has been fired from T-Mobile. You can read that here.

16:24 CEST    163km/34km to go
The two leaders are getting close to 30 km to go, and are not in the clear yet. 24 seconds.

The bunch is now at 5'00. It's not coming back, despite the best efforts of Saunier Duval, who have been 'punished' for missing the break.

16:28 CEST    167km/30km to go
Leipheimer is emulating his compatriot Landis, pouring water on his head and riding with his arms draped over the bars. But you can't call him a copycat: he was the one that tried the long range move in Stage 16 (when Landis cracked), but it didn't work out for the Gerolsteiner man.

Now all the Saunier Duval riders are pouring water on their heads. This is obviously the key to winning the bike race.

16:30 CEST    169km/28km to go
The peloton passes a babe on the side of the road, being minded by his mother. That was a special request from reader Jim Strange.

Leipheimer and Isasi have just 18 seconds as they get close to the second sprint at Polliat. They need to ride faster.

16:31 CEST    169.5km/27.5km to go
Leipheimer rides up past Isasi and does another strong turn, taking the six seconds at the sprint. Isasi second.

16:31 CEST    170km/27km to go
Sebastien Hinault is third, but there isn't really a sprint. The chase is flat out. Leipheimer drinks/pours another bidon.

16:33 CEST    171km/26km to go
The two leaders are starting to croak as the gap comes down to 14 seconds. It was as much as 34 seconds. If they are caught, the attacks will begin anew.

Sinkewitz rolls through for another turn in the chase group. Leipheimer looks back.

The peloton is falling further behind, now at 5'40.

16:35 CEST    172km/25km to go
The bunch rolls along, up and down the little hills en route to the finish.

The two in front haven't given up. They hold their gap at 15 seconds as they go under 25 km to go, past a field full of Citroen Deux Chevaux.

16:37 CEST    174km/23km to go
Levi takes a bottle from the water moto, drinking a bit and pouring a bit. Isasi follows him, getting second hand spray.

In the peloton, Michael Rasmussen is taking it easy at the back, looking quite relaxed.

16:38 CEST   
The Liquigas car rides up beside the chasing break, giving bidons to Quinziato and a few others.

Leipheimer has Ronny Scholz in the chase group, so maybe Gerolsteiner can pull something out of this.

16:39 CEST    177km/20km to go
The two leaders are slowly, but surely losing ground. They sit up a bit. Isasi does another turn, but the gas has gone off. They are caught at 20 km to go. The bunch is now at 6'40.

16:42 CEST   
Maybe there's something to this throwing water over your head trick. We've been trying it in the live commentary blimp, but our keyboards are smoking for some reason. Hmm, maybe an exercise for after the stage. Maybe it will work better with beer.

16:43 CEST    178.5km/18.5km to go
The bunch falls back to seven minutes behind the leaders as Saunier Duval continues to set a steady tempo. Pereiro's team actually has the yellow jersey. Maybe they are interested in doing something.

16:43 CEST    179km/18km to go
Ronny Scholz attacks the break next, and it's a good move. He had fresher legs. Vaugrenard chasing, but gives up.

16:44 CEST   
Moreni takes off after Scholz, and then Tosatto.

16:45 CEST    181km/16km to go
The two chasers try to catch Scholz, but the German keeps them at 3 seconds. Behind, Leipheimer is spoiling all attempts to chase.

16:47 CEST    183km/14km to go
Three leaders now: Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner), Cristian Moreni (Cofidis), Matteo Tosatto (Quick-Step-Innergetic). Tosatto rolls through for a hard turn, then pours water on his head.

16:49 CEST    184km/13km to go
The gap between the front three and the chasers is small. A splinter group is trying to get up with Leipheimer, Quinziato, Flecha and a couple of others.

The bunch is now 8'00 behind. Maybe Leipheimer can take yellow. Or get into the top 10 anyway.

16:50 CEST    185km/12km to go
The nearest chasers are at 15 seconds: Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner - not working), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom).

Finally Caisse d'Epargne gets to the front of the bunch and starts working.

16:51 CEST    186km/11km to go
Two Italians and a German are in front. They can all sprint a bit, so it could be an interesting finish if they are not caught. Leipheimer is playing a good role in the chase group of five behind. The other seven look beaten.

16:52 CEST    187km/10km to go
Moreni misses a turn but Scholz fills the gap. Tosatto rolls through then gets on the back. Sinkewitz, Quinziato, Pineau, Flecha and Leipheimer are at 22 seconds as they go under 10 km to go.

16:53 CEST    188km/9km to go
The first group is at 24 seconds, the second at 30 seconds, the bunch at 8'21. This is looking like a close finish. The first chasers look back and might be caught by the second chase group.

16:54 CEST   
There is a regrouping and Isasi, Aerts and Hinault counter attack. Flecha follows them, and most of the rest of the break. This won't work.

16:55 CEST    189.5km/7.5km to go
But the three out in front won't mind that. Scholz, Tosatto and Moreni are still working well.

The peloton is strung out as it goes under 15 km to go, well behind the breakaway.

16:56 CEST    190km/7km to go
The trio in front have 33 seconds, and this should be enough, unless the cooperation breaks in front.

16:56 CEST   
Scholz is doing the bulk of the work, while Moreni has missed a few turns.

16:57 CEST    191km/6km to go
Now Quinziato tries to get across alone. But he is pursued at speed.

16:58 CEST   
The Others let Quinziato go. He's a good time trialist, but he'd be lucky to get up to the front group.

16:58 CEST    192km/5km to go
The leaders are under 5 km to go on the outskirts of Mâcon. Moreni is still soft pedaling a bit. But now Scholz misses a turn.

16:59 CEST    193km/4km to go
Quinziato goes under 5 km to go as the leaders get to the inskirts of Mâcon. They ride over a bridge and have 4 km left.

17:00 CEST   
They have to keep the tempo up, but Quinziato is now at 38 seconds. The rest of the chasers are at 52 seconds. They won't come back.

Scholz looks to be the strongest, but...

17:01 CEST    194km/3km to go
Moreni leads as they get to 3 km to go, then Scholz again around a roundabout that keeps on going.

17:01 CEST    194.5km/2.5km to go
Scholz gets a little gap, sees it, and attacks. But Tosatto chases him down. Moreni in third.

17:02 CEST    195km/2km to go
Scholz keeps on riding, then Moreni goes through for a turn. Tosatto misses it and Scholz obliges by doing another turn under 2 km to go.

17:03 CEST   
Tosatto sits in third wheel as Moreni and Scholz swap off. Scholz looks fast. He's keeping the tempo up so the other two won't attack.

17:03 CEST    196km/1km to go
Scholz goes through again, Tosatto drops back, looks at Moreni, who shakes his head. 'No, really, after you.'

17:03 CEST    196km/1km to go
Scholz leads under 1 km to go. Now he'll have to slow down.

17:04 CEST   
Scholz might be doing too much...

17:04 CEST   
Scholz must be confident, but he doesn't pull off. 500m.

17:05 CEST    197km/0km to go
Tosatto looks back at Moreni, who gets ready. They go past Scholz at 400m. Then Scholz is gone. It's Tosatto who wins!!!! Moreni second, Scholz third. Quinziato fourth.

17:09 CEST   
Sébastien Hinault beats Pineau for fifth place.

Scholz basically threw that away in the final kilometre. He didn't even attempt to get Tosatto and Moreni to come past him. Oh well, nice win by Tosatto, for sure, but it was a strange sprint.

Euskaltel and T-Mobile are driving the bunch home to protect their guys top 10 GC places.

17:14 CEST   
Well, they couldn't win with Tom Boonen, but Quick.Step has managed to save its Tour with Matteo Tosatto's win in Mâcon. He used his experienced to outwit Scholz, who looked strong but didn't get himself into the right position.

Eisel wins the sprint for 16th about eight minutes behind the stage winner. McEwen didn't bother contesting that.

17:17 CEST   
No changes to the GC, which means tomorrow's time trial will more than likely decide the Tour de France, unless it's that close that bonus seconds will count on Sunday. The final stage isn't always a parade...

Join us again in the super-hydrated Hindenburg V-1 for our live coverage of Stage 19!


1 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick-Step-Innergetic                 4.16.15
2 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Cofidis                                 
3 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner                               0.02   
4 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas                               0.47
5 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Crédit Agricole                       1.03
6 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
7 Sylvain Calzati (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance
8 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) Francaise Des Jeux
9 Inaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10 Egoi Martinez (Spa) Discovery Channel

General classification after stage 18
1 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears        84.33.04
2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                                  0.12
3 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak                                     0.30
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile                                 2.29
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                             3.08
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank                                  4.14
7 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance                            4.24
8 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance                       5.45
9 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                       8.16
10 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile                               12.13

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