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Summary

  1. Vincenzo Nibali wins stage to extend race lead
  2. France's Thibot Pinot second to move second overall
  3. Rafal Majka third to win King of Mountains jersey
  4. Jean-Christophe Peraud up to third overall
  5. Stage 18 - 145.5km Pau to Hautacam

Live Reporting

By Chris Bevan

All times stated are UK

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Time for me to call it a day - and it's been another good one for Vincenzo Nibali, who moves ever closer to his first Tour triumph.

Here's the stage report.

Thanks for keeping me company over the last few hours, and hope to see you again for that fast finish on Friday.

Friday - stage 19

Stage 19
Tour de France

On Friday, stage 19 takes the race 208.5km from Mauburguet Pays du Val d'Adour to Bergerac. Much to the relief of the 165 riders left in this year's Tour, it is mostly flat!

"After three tough days in the mountains, the sprinters will come back to the fore," says Team Sky's Geraint Thomas.

"I expect a bunch sprint in Bergerac."

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Porthos from London: Chapeaus off to Nibali. Looking forward to watching the podium scramble over the coming days!

Polkadot Jersey

Classification

Rafal Majka
Getty Images

We know who is wearing yellow and we also know who is staying in polka dots. Poland's Rafal Majka has an unassailable lead in the King of the Mountains category as the race leaves the Pyrenees.

1. Rafal Majka (Pol/Tinkoff) 181 pts

2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 168 pts

3. Joaquim Rodriguez 112 pts

Yellow Jersey

Classification

Vincenzo Nibali
AP

So, Italy's Vincenzo Nibali continues his procession to Paris - extending his lead to ensure he will spend his 16th day in the yellow jersey on Friday.

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Aramis from Newbury: Nibali's dominance has been hugely impressive. Not even the ghost of Chris Froome would be able to catch him on this showing.

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Andy in Armagh: Absolute dominance from Vincenzo Nibali. Incredible stuff.

Stage 18 result

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana), 4hrs 04min 17sec

2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ.fr) +1.10

3. Rafal Majka (Pol/Tinkoff), +1.12

4. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R), +1.15

5. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC), same time

Magnus Backstedt

Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"It is not over for second and third and Saturday's time trial is shaping up to a a monster of a ride. It is between Pinot, Peraud, Valverde and Bardet in terms of who is going to be able to step on the podium.

"Valverde has a chance, he has improved his time trialling and he is going to be in with a shout if he can pedal the mountains out of his legs on Friday's flat stage.

"I would bet on Peraud finishing on the podium but unless Pinot has done something with his time trial he's going to find it difficult to hold off Valverde.

"I think it is done for Bardet but three Frenchman in top five is great."

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Andrew Harvey: What a performance from Vincenzo Nibali! Super-human stuff from 'Nibbles'! Wonder if he'd have been this dominant with Froome and Contador still in?

The race for the podium

Yellow Jersey

Classification

Alejandro Valverde has slipped off the podium. He started the day in second place but ends it in fourth. It is not over for him yet, though, The Spanish time trial champion can claw back some of those seconds in Saturday's 54km time trial from Bergerac to Perigueux.

As discussed, nobody is in the same postcode as overall leader Vincenzo Nibali, though. He has the race sewn up.

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 80hrs 45mins 45secs

2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ.fr) +7.10

3. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R) +7.23

4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +7.25

Magnus Backstedt

Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"It's been an incredible power display by Vincenzo Nibali. He is definitely a worthy winner of the Tour de France. He has been out there attacking at any opportunity.

"He's still got a couple of days to look after himself but he has a strong team to do that and he is an aware rider. I hope nothing happens to him. In terms of pure performance he is the best rider here."

Hugs and smiles for Nibali at the finish. And Thibaut Pinot is already on a warm-down bike. He's only been up two of the hardest hills of the Tour de France already today. Give the lad a rest.

Polkadot Jersey

Classification

Thibaut Pinot sprints past Rafal Majka to take second place. Majka doesn't mind, because he has that polka dot jersey for keeps. But how far back is Alejandro Valverde?

Vincenzo Nibali wins stage 18

The Italian zips up his yellow jersey and lifts both arms skyward as he crosses the line. That's his fourth stage win, and the Tour is is in the bag.

The race for the podium

So, Nibali has 500m to go to the finish line. He has won this stage and is on his way to winning the Tour, but behind him who will steal a few seconds in the race for the podium? Rafal Majka will not care, because if he finishes in the top four, he will wrap up the King of the Mountains category.

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Liam Dickinson: Nibali has been a machine on this tour. Well deserved, think he'd have beaten Froome and Contador regardless.

Magnus Backstedt

Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Valverde drank from a bottle given to him by a fan. You've got to be careful with what you take from spectators unless it's water you're going to throw over your head. I was always told not to drink anything that you are given from someone you don't know. You just don't know what you're ingesting."

Vincenzo Nibali has a lead of about one minute and 15 seconds on the four riders behind him (Peraud, Van Garderen, Pinot and Majka). He is inside the last 2km of this climb up to the finish line at the summit of Hautacam.

The race for the podium

Alejandro Valverde's recovery continues but his group is still 30 seconds behind. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing). Those three have just passed Rafal Majka.

Rob Hatch

BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

"The Spanish fans have been out with the paintbrush writing Valverde, Valverde, Valverde on the road about 3km from the finish. Some French fans have crossed his name out and written 'you're not welcome' and 'you're rubbish' - it's not particularly nice but you can understand it."

Yellow Jersey

Classification

Vincenzo Nibali is still going strong at the front of the race, with 3.6km to go until the finish line. Rafal Majka is 29 seconds back, battling to keep hold of his king of the mountains jersey. He needs to finish fifth or better to be sure of that.

The race for the podium

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), who started the day in third place, is trying hard to make the most of Alejandro Valverde's struggles. Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R) and Romain Bardet (AG2R) are still fighting too. But Valverde is not giving up just yet. He is back in touch with the riders around him in the general classification.

Alejandro Valverde cracks

The bunch containing the other riders battling for the podium places has dropped Alejandro Valverde. He is out the back and rocking badly. This could be his top-three bid done and dusted.

Simon, Cheshire: Last rider to dominate it like Nibali? 'Big Mig' Miguel Indurain maybe?

Magnus Backstedt

Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Nibali was lucky to only clip her with his elbow. It's becoming one of the more dangerous things with all the people out on the roadside. I'm not sure I'm that bothered if her phone is OK - it might teach her a lesson."

OUCH!

Hang on, this race is not done yet. Another fan taking a selfie leaves out a stray elbow that clips Vincenzo Nibali as he continues to race up this hill. He stays in his saddle, thankfully, and that could have been a lot worse. The fan dropped her phone, though.

Polkadot Jersey

Classification

Rafal Majka can hang on to his polka dot jersey as leader of the King of the Mountains category if he finishes second today. He is trying his best, and is now in second place on the road, overtaking Mikel Nieve and trailing Nibali by 33 seconds with 6.5km to go.

Yellow Jersey

Classification

Vincenzo Nibali is still a man in a hurry. He went past Mikel Nieve as if he were pedalling backwards and accelerated as he did so. Just 7.5km to go to the summit and he will be there very soon at this rate.

Vincenzo Nibali is rocketing up this mountain and is only 15 seconds behind Mikel Nieve now. They are 8.4km from the finish at the summit of Hautacam.

Magnus Backstedt

Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"It's clear Nibali wants a stage in the Pyrenees and what a stage this is finishing on the Hautacam. It is one of the iconic climbs that all climbers want to win. Only a crash can stop him winning the race."

Vincenzo Nibali attacks again!

The Italian leaves Chris Horner in his slipstream. Only Mikel Nieve stands between him and his fourth stage win of this year's Tour. He is just 30 seconds behind the Team Sky rider, and closing fast.

Nibali the king of the mountains?

If Vincenzo Nibali wins this stage, as he clearly wants to do, he will take over as leader in the King of the Mountains category as well as the overall race lead.

They are 48 seconds behind Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) and pedalling hard in the Pyrenees heat with 9.6km to go to the finish.

Magnus Backstedt

Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Nobody looks at chasing Nibali. They know he's too far ahead in the lead of the race. They are looking at the podium positions and finishing second and third overall."

In the peloton

Back in the bunch, and veteran rider Chris Horner attacks. Vincenzo Nibali goes with him, and nobody else follows. I think that is the white flag being waved on the general classification. They will fight out the podium places on the way up to the finish.

In the break

Mikel Nieve has put in one heck of an effort there, to leave Blel Kadri in his wake. The bad news for him is that he still has about 11km of climbing to go, and the gap to the yellow jersey bunch is not getting any bigger.

Magnus Backstedt

Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Definitely a good move by Mikel. If he has the legs, he had to go. The difference is only one minute 18 seconds ahead of the yellow jersey bunch though. It will be difficult to hold on."

In the break

Team Sky's Mikel Nieve attacks!

In the break

The leaders hit the lower slopes of the Hautacam, where the crowds are already five-deep on the road-side. That gap to the yellow jersey bunch keeps coming down - dropping to one minute and 20 seconds with 12.8km to go.

Apparently Rojas Gil spent too much time sheltering behind a team car, which is why he has been thrown out of the race.

Another one bites the dust

Race radio is reporting that one of Alejandro Valverde's Movistar team-mates, Spain's Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil, has been disqualified. Not sure why. More on that when it is confirmed.