The Queen stage of this years’ Tour de France was won by Christophe Riblon. Froome gained time on most rivals.
Two times the riders had to climb Alpe d’Huez and such a stage will go into the history books. Riders who are not interesting for the general classification this year, have in such a stage a good chance to ride themselves into the picture.
Riblon in the history books
And so it happened that good riders who, because of injuries or bad shape didn’t contend for the first three spots in Paris, attacked fanatically on stage 18.
Oldtimer Jens Voigt, Thomas Voegler, TJ van Garderen and Christophe Riblon all attacked early in the stage and were given the chance by the Sky team to take some minutes on the peloton.
In the final climb, last years’ number four, Tejay van Garderen, seemed to go for the win after an heroic fight against his co-attackers. Unfortunately fatigue hit him at about 2km for the finish and this was the chance of Christophe Riblon to shine. With renewed energy he approached van Garderen, turned around him and scraped all his energy together to race to the finish. So Riblon will always be remembered as the rider who won the stage in which Alpe d’Huez was climbed twice.
As expected there was a huge Dutch crowd on Alpe d’Huez. The highest concentration could be found at curve 7 which was seen from the helicopter as an orange spot. The party for the fans was not always a party for the riders. The heroes was not left more than about one meter to ride and had to encounter flags, signs and beer.
Despite the Dutch presence at the top of the general classification in the first two weeks, the Dutch fans had not much Dutch riders to cheer to at the front. Lars Boom who was in the early attack was caught long before the finish and the Dutch promises Baukema and ten Dam got weaker and weaker. Baukema is sick and might not even start at stage 19.
Quintana for the podium in Paris
Growing into the Tour in a magnificent way is the 23-year-old Nairo Quintana from Columbia. Starting as the helper for Alejandro Valverde he is now the important man for the Movistar team. He attacked Froome on the final climb to the finish and even gained one minute on Froome. In the general classification he went up from place 6 to place 3, only 21 seconds away from Alberto Contador and the number 2 position in Paris.
Will he be the next Colombian on the podium in Paris after Fabio Parra in 1988? And what will he wear? He is riding in the white jersey and he probably brings the jersey for the youngest high positioned rider to Paris. But he is also only seven points away from the polka dot jersey, the jersey for the best climber, which is now still on the shoulders of Chris Froome. Nairo Quintana keeps it calm. “I am going for a podium position, that is already a dream for me. I hope that I can recover tonight for the coming two mountain stages.”
He has been alert on every mountain stage but also realized that he just misses the extra energy to make it really difficult for Christopher Froome. On stage 18 Alberto Contador had to let go Froome, Porte, Quintana and his fellow country man ‘Purito’.
Nevertheless, did he ride his own speed and didn’t loose more than a minute to Froome. In order to keep the second position, Contador has however to watch the Columbian mountain surprise Quintana. But Contador is well known for his fighting mentality and surprised many in the previous years with a come back.
The 204.5km from Bourg d’Oisan to Grand-Bornand will not be an easy trip for any of the riders. The two climbs up the Alpe d’Huez are still to be felt in the legs and starting with two highest category climbs at the start of the day is not the ideal breakfast for any rider.
In the last 70km the riders face three climbs. Although the finish is not on top of a mountain today, fireworks can be expected on the last climb.