The 2019 Tour de France reached the Alps, and Nario Quintana (Movistar) wanted to let everyone know he was not dead yet as he crushed the mythical Col du Galibier and cruised to the finish line in Valloire during Stage 18.

Nario Quintana
Nario Quintana (Movistar) rides to a breakaway victory after topping Col du Galibier in Stage 18 of the 2019 Tour de France. (Image: Getty)

Stage 18, a 208 km ride from Embrun to Valloire featured the first of three brutal mountain stages in the Alps.

Nario Quintana conquered the Col du Galibier by himself as he won his first stage of this year’s Tour de France. He also shaved critical time off Julian Alaphilippe’s lead and moved into seventh overall.

STAGE 18 RESULTS:
Nario Quintana (Movistar) 5:34:15
Romain Bardet (AG2R) +1:35
Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) +2:28

OVERALL STANDINGS (thru Stage 18):
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 75:18:49
Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) +1:30
Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) +1:35
Steve Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) +1:47
Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +1:50

Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe aggressively retained the yellow jersey for the 14th consecutive day. He earned it in Stage 18 after he caught up to a breakaway pack hellbent on cutting his lead.

Most of the GC leaders, including Geraint Thomas, Steve Kruijswijk and Thibaut Pinot, stayed close to Alaphilippe. However, Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) broke away and finished in 8th. The young Colombian shaved a good thirty-two seconds off the lead to move into second overall ahead of his teammate Geraint Thomas by a mere five seconds.

With the Stage 18 victory, Quintana moved into seventh place in the Tour de France and trails the yellow jersey leader by 3:54.

Stage 18: Embrun > Valloire

The race reached the Alps. At this juncture of the Tour de France, the climbers with gas left in the tank reign supreme.

A breakaway group of nine riders were ahead on the climb toward the top of Col du Galibier. With 7.5 km remaining, Quintana made his move and dropped everyone. In a flash, Quintana became the Stage 18 winner.

“I knew this could be a big day for me,” Quintana told VeloNews. “I came to the stage with a strategy to try to win and move up to Landa on GC. It was very frustrating when I lost time early in the race. This victory is dedicated to my teammates, to my family and friends, and to my compatriots who always support me in the ups and downs. It is an illusion to win over the Galibier.”

At the same time, Egan Bernal made his move as he broke away from his chase pack.

The other leaders stayed close with Julian Alaphilippe, who fell behind on the ascent. However, Alaphilippe made up for his lost time on the descent. It a super-aggressive, yet exciting attack, Alaphilippe chased down and even overtook the pack. They’d all ride to the finish line at Valloire together. Alaphilippe did not lose any time on them, however, he was unable to catch up to Bernal.

Bernal shaved off 32 crucial seconds. He jumped from fifth place to second overall.

“I took some risk,” said Alaphilippe. “But in the end I was on my limit on the top of the Galibier. The gap was not too big so I just went full-gas on the descent. I just gave everything. I knew that it would be a really hard day. Everybody wants to attack and push me to my limit. And they did. But I’m really happy to save my yellow jersey for one more day.”

Stage 19: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne > Tignes

Stage 19 is only 126.5 km but a hellacious trip from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Tignes. There will be two ascents in the 2,000 meters range and four overall climbs.

If the Col de Madeleine does not make riders completely mad, they might crack climbing the Col de I’lseran. I’lseran is only a 7.5 km ascent but it’s a category H climb that tops out at 2,770.

Heading into Stage 19, oddsmakers in Europe posted Egan Bernal as the favorite to win his first stage of this tour. Bernal is 4/1 odds. Simon Yates, who won two stages already, is 4/1 odds to win his third stage this tour.

Mikel Landa is 6/1 odds to win Stage 19, while Thibaut Pinot is 7/1 odds to ride to victory at Tignes.

TOUR DE FRANCE ODDS (thru Stage 18):
Egan Bernal 3/2
Thibaut Pinot 3/1
Geraint Thomas 7/2
Julian Alaphilippe 7/2

What a difference a day makes. Thibaut Pinot dropped from even money and 1/1 odds to 3/1 odds to win the 2019 Tour de France. The young Colombian, Egan Bernal, jumped to 3/2 odds and he’s the new favorite to win.

Defending champ Geraint Thomas and Bernal’s co-captain at Ineos, is 7/2 odds to win in consecutive years. Yellow jersey leader Julian Alaphilippe are both 7/2 odds to win. Every stage, the bookies and media say this will be the last time Alaphilippe holds the yellow jersey… yet he continues to wear it.

France has not seen a French winner since Bernard Hinault won his fifth Tour de France in 1965. All hopes ride on Alaphilippe and Pinot’s performance in Stage 19.

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