Stage 18 and the peloton departed from Europe’s highest fortified town Briançon for the final day in the Alps and final mountain stage of the Tour to the top of the imposing Col d’Izoard.
Gabs sampled the finest farmhouse ewes chisses and delicious hams. He also tried a French lasagne made with spinach. French lasagne I hear you say? Well, he was only 20km from the border with the Italy. No waiyne this time but he did get to enjoy a tipple of the local liqueur.
After the fall of the flag the four man breakaway of Thomas De Gendt, Alessandro De Marchi, Lilian Calmejane and Elie Gesbert swelled to 54. Thomas De Gendt Engine was the first to pick up some KOM points on the category 3 Côte des Demoiselles Coiffées.
In the caravan of commentary Robbie was rustling through his mail bag and slapped his forehead with a ‘not another nature break question’ which seems to be an obsession of the hubbard Tour de France watchers.
For the umpteenth time Robbie explained the principle of the rolling nature break which begged the question ‘why not just take a nature break in your pants?’ Come on, this is not surfing you know.
Troll DJ busted out the Alps stage standard ‘River Deep Mountain High’ by Ike and Tina Turner.
It was a little stretch but Troll DJ ran with A Flock of Seagulls’s ‘I Ran’ for Rigoberto Uran. Since no song rhymes with Uran, the next best thing might have been Duran Duran (Rigoberto’s full surname is Uran Uran). I still think I Ran would have been totes appropriate for when Chris Froome went for a run up Mont Ventoux last year.
In anticipation of the big climbs ahead, Troll DJ trotted out the AC/DC classic ‘Long Way to the Top’ but with a lack of a town or any other permanent infrastructure at the finish, are there any sausage rolls at the top of the Col d’Izoard?
Field art has been few and far between on these mountainous stages but what’s the bet if the Tour went into Switzerland we'd have seen a cuckoo clock by now?
Robbie was occupied with pointing out some of the unique geological features of the region. One interesting rock formation drew comparisons to the Apostles due to the erosion. Apostles or sisters Robbie? Be careful with your comparisons, Phil had a habit of mixing up the two.
On the ascent of the category 1 Col de Vars Alexey Lutsenko was first over the summit taking Romain Sicard, Tony Gallopin and Darwin Atapuma with him.
Gallopin, Dani Navarro, Lutsenko, Nicolas Edet and Atapuma commenced the monster climb of the Col d'Izoard. Just a thought but has Eddie Izzard ever driven up the Izoard with Eddy Merckx in a Merc?
Lutsenko wasn't driving a Merc, a Volvo or anything else on four wheels but went out alone up the Izoard with Gallopin and Atapuma on the hunt. Atapuma caught and mauled Gallopin and was now going after Lutsenko.
Atapuma caught Lutsenko and further back down the road Bugalugs was doing a job for Bardet.
Warren Barguil and Bertie launched from the yellow group and a determined Barguil the Brave was now chasing Atapuma, according to Mattie, "like a carrot to a greyhound". This left Barguil, "flirting with the red zone but he's not taking it out to dinner".
But this climb is survival of the fittest and Barguil dropped Darwin Atapuma and Mattie was on fire in the caravan of commentary today.
Barguil the Brave had the king of the mountains jersey and he wanted to be the king of Col d'Izoard and crossed the line for his second stage win of the Tour.
Froome hung on to yellow, Romain Bardet moved to second, Uran third, Mikel Landa up to fourth and Fabio Aru slipped further into fifth position nearly 2 minutes behind Froome.
Team Sky has dominated the Tour, again, but how good are Sunweb? It's not over but they've got four stage wins and have staked their claim on half the jerseys on offer with Aussie Michael Matthews in green and Barguil in polka dots.