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Tour de France - Cycling: Stage 18 preview

After Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar's nail-biting duel on Wednesday, more of the same is likely on Thursday's Stage 18 at the Tour de France.

The leading pair battled it out on the final 300m ramp up to Peyragudes and Pogacar's win allowed him to claw back four seconds in the overall battle. However, Vingegaard, who is 1/7 to win his first Tour, remains two minutes and 18 seconds ahead in the General Classification and is circling cycling immortality.

Thursday's final day in the Pyrenees features three huge climbs and might be another stage where the two strongest men in the race fight it out again.

The day begins in Lourdes and follows a 143.2km route to the finish line at Hautacam ski resort.

The 2022 Tour de France at bet365


Tour de France, Stage 18


Lourdes to Hautacam


Thursday 21st July

How to watch

Live on ITV4, Eurosport, Discovery+ & GCN+

OddsTadej Pogacar 9/4, Jonas Vingegaard 7/2, Nick Schultz 10/1, Michael Woods 14/1, Alexey Lutsenko 14/1 

Stage 18 route details

Stage 18 is the final day in the Pyrenees and brings with it another plethora of challenges.

Beginning with a short local lap into the pilgrimage city of Lourdes, it is a fairly sedate build-up to the expected drama.

There are two hors-categorie climbs, a status previously bestowed upon ascents that the organisers felt were impossible to conquer, even by car. These are the Col d'Aubisque and the closing Hautacam, while sandwiched between them is the category one Col de Spandelles, which makes its Tour debut.

Similar to Wednesday's Stage 17, it is a relatively short route at 143.2km and the first half is virtually flat, with the first categorised climb of the day, the Aubisque, summiting at 76.7km.

It's undulating from there on in and while the breakaway will have a chance, Wednesday's action suggests it might only be a slight one.

Vincenzo Nibali triumphed here in 2014 to all but seal overall glory - will it be the same story for Vingegaard on Thursday?

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Three to watch

Tadej Pogacar @ 9/4

It could be now or never for Pogacar, who is 9/2 to prevail overall. After Wednesday's win to Peyragudes, he will be looking to recharge and go again.

The Slovenian should be able to put time into his rival on Saturday's time-trial but that might not be enough. With Friday and Sunday's stages almost certainly sprint days, the 23-year-old's chances of winning a third straight Tour are running out.

With the race to lose, Vingegaard doesn't need to attack. He will also have in the back of his mind that he could lose time over Saturday's pan-flat course, so will want to remain as fresh as possible to avoid any late disasters.

Brandon McNulty's mammoth ride was pivotal to Pogacar's victory on Wednesday and he will be imploring his other Team UAE Emirates to give their all for one last effort on Thursday.

Thibaut Pinot @ 20/1

Pinot was once again quiet on a day that seemed to suit him on Wednesday but he will be back for more on Thursday.

A pure climber, the relative lack of descending also suits the 32-year-old who has recorded two top-10s so far in the race and has shown he has got the legs, but perhaps not the luck.

That has been the story in Pinot's career but without the pressure of the overall to worry about, he has the freedom to attack.

On the right day, this route should suit him and his perseverance during the current Tour almost deserves a victory.

Michael Woods @ 16/1

Israel Premier Tech have had a great Tour, winning two stages through Hugh Houle and Simon Clarke, while Chris Froome has also impressed, notably finishing third behind Tom Pidcock on Alpe d'Huez.

One rider still searching for his maiden Tour win is their own Michael Woods, despite enjoying another decent race, having been allowed to go out on the hunt for opportunities.

On Tuesday, the Canadian found himself in that intriguing situation in cycling, having to sacrifice his own hopes for his compatriot Houle, with the other breakaway riders happy to mark Woods and enable Houle to escape, only to realise their mistake too late.

With no interest in the overall, the 35-year-old will be allowed to get in the break and this is an excellent chance for him to finally get that victory.

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