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Quintana claims stage as Thomas falters

 

Nairo Quintana
Nairo Quintana

By Ian Parker

Nairo Quintana soloed to victory on stage 18 of the Tour de France in Valloire as Egan Bernal raced away from Ineos team-mate Geraint Thomas while they tried to shake off Julian Alaphilippe on the Galibier.

Bernal attacked around three kilometres from the summit of the famed climb and pulled out a lead of 32 seconds over the much-reduced group of favourites to move himself up from fifth to second overall, now five seconds ahead of Thomas.

Thomas had tried a dig of his own, bursting off the front of the group with around two kilometres of the climb but this time Thibaut Pinot and Steven Kruijswijk responded, catching him by the summit, with the effort perhaps only serving to limit Bernal's time gains.

That is sure to reopen the debate over team leadership within Ineos once again.

"We wanted it to be hard but the pace wasn't there," Thomas said. "The call was made for Egan to go and hopefully that would kick it off a bit, but it didn't.

"That's when I went as well, just to test. But at least Egan gained some time."

Quintana arrived at the Tour as a contender for the yellow jersey but began the day almost 10 minutes down on the general classification.

That meant he was allowed to go in the breakaway on a brutal day in the Alps.

Quintana attacked from a much-reduced group seven-and-a-half kilometres from the top of the Galibier, cresting it ahead of the chasing Romain Bardet before descending to his third career Tour stage win.

"I knew it could be a good day for me. In the end we have won the stage victory," said Colombian Quintana.

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