Tour de France: Kwiatkowski wins 18th stage, Roglic retains yellow

Richard Carapaz, who took the lead in the mountains classification, gave teammate Michal Kwiatkowski a pat on the back before they crossed the line together.

Richard Carapaz (left) let his Team INEOS teammate Michal Kwiatkowski take the stage 18 win - for his first ever Tour de France stage win.   -  Twitter

Michal Kwiatkowski, the unsung hero of Team Sky/INEOS during its dominant years, claimed his maiden Tour de France victory when he won the 18th stage from a breakaway duo with teammate Richard Carapaz on Thursday.

Carapaz, who took the lead in the mountains classification, gave former world champion Kwiatkowski a pat on the back before they crossed the line together, which ensured that the Polish rider would take first place.

The victory is a sweet reward for Kwiatkowski, whose role as a domestique on the Tour has helped Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal win Tour de France titles since 2016.

READ | Tour de France: Colombian Lopez wins stage 17, Roglic extends lead

It also gave INEOS-Grenadiers something to cheer about one day after defending champion Bernal abandoned the race because of back pains.

"I'm going to celebrate big time tonight," said Kwiatkowski.

Roglic team’s sports director kicked out

Merjin Zeeman, a sports director with overall leader Primoz Roglics Jumbo-Visma team, was excluded from the Tour de France for intimidating and insulting a member of the International Cycling Union (UCI) at the end of Thursday’s 17th stage.

The day’s jury report, which lists all the fines handed after a Tour stage, said that Zeeman had also been fined 2,000 Swiss Francs (USD 2,200) for his behaviour towards an official responsible for inspecting the bikes at the end of the stage.

Jumbo-Visma did not respond to a request for comment.

The UCI checks several bikes after a race or a grand tour stage in an effort to fight against mechanical doping.

 

Primoz Roglic retained the overall leaders' yellow jersey after the last mountain stage, a 175-km effort from Meribel, as he controlled his closest rival and fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar.

Pogacar lags 57 seconds behind with Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez in third place, 1:26 off the pace.

Friday's 19th stage is a 166.5-km undulating ride between Bourg en Bresse and Champagnole.

Only 5,000 spectators allowed onto Champs-Elysees for final stage

Only 5,000 spectators will be granted access to the Champs-Elysees to watch Sunday's finale of the Tour de France due to health protocols that have been put in place to control the spread of COVID-19, local authorities said on Thursday.

“The access to the Champs-Elysees will be forbidden once the tally of 5,000 people will be reached,” authorities said in a statement.

The Tour de France, the world's biggest cycling race, has finished on the Champs-Elysees since 1975. The final stage is generally won by a sprinter, without any impact on the general classification.

On Thursday, France registered 10,593 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, setting a new daily record and pushing the cumulative number to 415,481, the health ministry reported.