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Summary

  1. Stage 18: Gap - Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, 186.5km
  2. Romain Bardet wins stage, second French win this year
  3. Chris Froome defends attacks, still leads GC by 3mins 10secs

Live Reporting

By Chris Osborne

All times stated are UK

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La Tussle on Toussuire

Remember when Chris Froome left 'team-mate' Bradley Wiggins for dead three years ago and had to be called back by his team? That was on La Toussuire and we go up it again tomorrow.

Geraint Thomas is too much of a good boy to prove a similar point tomorrow, right?

The only way to find out is to join us from 12:30 BST, when we do it all over again. Until then, au revoir.

Presentations

Romain Bardet, at the age of 24, is a great white hope for French cycling. A future Tour winner? Maybe. He showed true grit today. He's received his plaudits on the stage and here comes Chris Froome.

Froome is given the yellow jersey, a bunch of flowers and, like one every stage, a cuddly lion, which is probably the best bit.

Stage 19: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - La Toussuire 138km

Stage 19
Le Tour

There's plenty more climbing to be done tomorrow, including a whopper in the middle and a biggie to the finish line.

 "With a difficult climb straight from the off, whoever has the yellow jersey will not only have to watch out for the top-five riders but those just outside," says Geraint Thomas in our stage-by-stage preview.

Romain Bardet's speed up Montvernier pretty much mirrors the crazy hairpins all the way up.

#icymi - A look at Bardet's speed up Lacets de Montvernier. Average speed 16.11km/h #TDFdata #TDF2015

#icymi - A look at Bardet's speed up Lacets de Montvernier. Average speed 16.11km/h #TDFdata #TDF2015

Polka dot jersey

There's a bit more action when we take a look at the polka dot jersey. Chris Froome started the day at the top of the leaderboard, but Joaquim Rodriguez wore the spots as Froome had the yellow.

He owns it outright now, but only just. The Spaniard is level on points with Romain Bardet, and edges through a count back on who has won the most top-category climbs.

Kom
Le Tour

Yellow jersey

So Chris Froome's lead remains 3mins 10secs, with just two more stages to go until the procession into Paris. All wrapped up? Yes? Surely? Definitely?

Class
Le Tour

'We see the finish'

Perfect. It's ideal really. The team was strong, we didn't panic when guys were attacking. We didn't have to react to Contador when he went. We followed over the top. The last climb was tough with those hairpins. Morale is good and everyone is up for it. We can see the finish."

Team Sky's Geraint Thomas on ITV4

Yellow jersey

Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde, Geraint Thomas, Alberto Contador, Robert Gesink and Vincenzo Contador - they all finished together, so there's no change in the yellow jersey top seven.

Romain Bardet's superb stage win has moved him up to 10th in the GC, which is the only change in the top 10.

Froome on edge?

Rob Hayles

Former GB cyclist

"Geraint Thomas was so strong and it was a great ride. It's kind of a role reversal for Chris Froome in the way he helped Bradley Wiggins win that first British yellow jersey. Geraint actually looked in better shape than Froome there - Froome looked on the edge at times, admittedly it wasn't a problem."

Yellow jersey

We get a mini sprint from the yellow jersey group, they all finish together, with Team Sky's Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas safely home. 

Yellow jersey

We await the yellow jersey group. We may be short on excitement...

Bardet wins stage 18

There is a French roar in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. Romain Bardet ha his fists clenched, hands in the air, the finish line is in sight. A tremendous battling performance from the AG2R rider. It's a French one-two as Pierre Rolland follows shortly after.

Romain Bardet
@letour

3.2km remaining

Speedbumps. The nemesis of the cyclist. Romain Bardet has to swing around a few as he edges closer to a second French win at this year's Tour. He has a 42-second lead over Pierre Rolland (also French) in second.

4.2km remaining

Is Chris Froome human? He might just be. The Briton is right at the back of the yellow jersey group, clinging on. There is a bit more worry in his face than usual. But no panic just yet.

Chris Froome at the back of the yellow jersey group
Getty Images

Polka dot jersey

Romain Bardet picked up five points on that climb, which puts him level with polka dot wearer Joaquim Rodriguez at the top of the classification.

Joaquim Rodriguez and Romain Bardet
Getty Images

6.8km remaining

Vincenzo Nibali gets a bit of space, but then runs out climb! It looked, briefly, like Chris Froome was struggling, but just in the nick of time the summit of Montvernier arrives and the group get back on Nibali's wheel.

What of the yellow jersey group I hear you ask? I'm asking that too.

Ah, here we go, we finally have pictures of Froome and co. They are all together, but here goes Vincenzo Nibali.

Chris Froome cycles past British flags
AP

10.1km remaining

The French spectators get excited a Romain Bardet emerges at the top of the climb. He's got Pierre Rolland, Winner Anacona and Bob Jungels 30 seconds behind.

11.2km remaining

There could be a logistical problem here. If the yellow jersey group catch the leaders, there may not be any room to pass the support cars in between. There's still a 2mins 53secs gap.

The riders are looking like ladybirds climbing up strings of spaghetti. It's superb.

Here are more gratuitous photos of Montvernier. You're welcome.

Get ready for the Lacets de Montvernier: 18 hairpin bends, or shoelaces, that are about to animate the #TDF2015
Get ready for the Lacets de Montvernier: 18 hairpin bends, or shoelaces, that are about to animate the #TDF2015

Get ready for the Lacets de Montvernier: 18 hairpin bends, or shoelaces, that are about to animate the #TDF2015

12.8km remaining

Romain Bardet is 43 seconds in front. Just 18 hairpins to master and the stage is yours my friend. The climb up Montvernier is odd - there is no crowd because the road is so narrow.

The yellow jersey group are together and are 3mins 17secs down - they are about to hit the climb.

French fancy

Matt Slater

BBC Sport

"Romain Bardet's profile in France could be about to go stratospheric.

"It has been a tough Tour for the locals after the apparently false dawn of last year's Paris podium places for Jean-Christophe Peraud and Thibaut Pinot.

"But the young Frenchman who finished sixth last year is one short climb from an epic win.

"Already feted as the future of French cycling, his present will be pretty good if he pulls this off and there is an expectant crowd waiting for him."

14.8km remaining

Romain Bardet looks set to hold on to this until the end of the stage. His lead over the eight riders behind is hovering at about 35 seconds. Who will try and close him down?

Romain Bardet
Reuters

The leaders are on Montvernier. It looks spectacular - hopefully it will become a mainstay of the Tour.

Montvernier climb has not been used till now, because till recently no one other than the locals knew it was a proper (if narrow) road. #tdf

Hats off to Bauke Mollema. He's pretty much just time trialled his way on to the back of the yellow jersey group.

Bauke Mollema
Getty Images

Adam Talansky, in the front group, has been given food. Technically it's not allowed, because he's in the final 20km. But there were few opportunities to do it safely on the descent just before, so he'll probably get away with it.

18.9km remaining

Romain Bardet has a 30-second lead over the front group, which has Jakob Fuglsang back in it after his unfortunate fall. Then 2mins 10secs further back is the yellow jersey group, where Chris Froome has survived attacks from Quintana ans Nibali. Plenty of arms being waved, asking for water and feed.

My picture of Montvernier may not have worked. So here's another to gawp at. The TV helicopters will have a field day with these shots. The riders will look like ants heading through capillaries of a nest.

Here's the final climb from today's Tour de France stage. Stunning, right? roadcyclinguk.com/racing/tour-de…

Here's the final climb from today's Tour de France stage. Stunning, right? roadcyclinguk.com/racing/tour-de…

24.1km remaining

Romain Bardet is out on his own in front and looks like a good bet to take the stage. It will all depend on whether he's left enough in the legs to get up Montvernier.

The yellow jersey group is 2mins 42secs off the lead.

Your cycling nosh

Yes. There's always time for an ice cream in almost any life situation. Tell us about your cycling food using #bbccycling

#bbccycling Always time for an ice cream stop when cycling..

#bbccycling Always time for an ice cream stop when cycling..

29km remaining

The yellow jersey group is on the descent, with Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador back in there. They are 2mins 41 secs off the leaders.

Mont-swervier

Speaking of climbs, we still have this one to come...

It's not the biggest of the day, but the last ascent before the finish is a mind-boggling zig-zag up Montvernier. It looks gorgeous but probably feels like hell to go up it. Anybody given it a go before?

Credit to will_cyclist for the photo

Montvernier
will_cycle

33.7km remaining

Meanwhile, Frenchman Romain Bardet is pleasing the locals by being the first to the top of Col du Glandon and is moving off the front of the lead group on the descent. Speaking of brilliant names, he's got Winner Anacona with him.

36.8km remaining

Nairo Quintana is off! He's gone ahead of Nibali. This time Geraint Thomas, like a hound of hell, is told to go get him. Chris Froome is out of his saddle and clings on for dear life.

39.3km remaining

Vincenzo Nibali
AP

It's starting to liven up. Vincenzo Nibali makes a move from the yellow jersey group. Geraint Thomas looks to follow, but Chris Froome shakes his head to tell his team-mate to stick. Nibali is eight mins behind Froome in the GC.

Crash

You can remove Jakob Fuglsang from that leaders group, he's just hit the deck. It's an odd one, as he was right at the front of the lead group. The consensus is he may have hit a motorbike - which is terrible luck if so.

Jakob Fuglsang falls
@letour

As it stands with 40.5km remaining

Lead group: 11 riders including Rodriguez, Fuglsang, Bardet, Talansky and Jungels

Second group +2mins 16secs: Four riders - Contador, Frank, frank, Gesing, Barguil

Yellow jersey group +3mins 3secs

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Ross Wilson:  Bob Jungels - not only a great name, but a future tour winner?...you heard it here first!

A future king of the jungles?

Rob Hayles

Former GB cyclist

"Contador is in attacking rider. The other guy you would say will attack is Valverde. He will be looking for a stage win as well and could be dangerous because of the time bonus on offer. There are a lot of attackers in there and we will see a lot more animated racing."

Listen to Rob by clicking the Live Coverage tab

Alberto Contador
AP