Michael Kwiatkowski and Richard Carapaz cross the line together for team Ineos, but the wheel of Kwiatkowski gives him the victory in Stage 18.
By Chuck Gibson (Interview quotes provided by Le Tour de France)
INTERNATIONAL (September 17, 2020) – Two teammates from Ineos attacked early to get the lead and never let go to the end. Richard Carapaz and Michael Kwiatkowski led the entire race today – even crossing the finish line together, arm in arm.
Carapaz who was overtaken late in the toughest stage of the race so far on Wednesday was right back out front again Thursday, but this time with a teammate at his side. Unselfishly, the two rode across the finish together with Kwiatkowski earning the stage win by a part of his wheel.
“I’ll never forget that day,” said Kwiatkowski. “I’m just grateful to the whole team and Richard [Carapaz]. This is an incredible day for us. I’ll never forget that. I get nice moments in cycling but this one gave me goose bumps in the last kilometers, I don’t know how many but the gap was so big that we knew we were going to make it.”
Make it, they did. It was a powerful moment to behold in this most special 2020 Tour de France. Despite giving up the stage win, Richard Carapaz earned the bonus points to take over the lead in the race for King of the Mountains. He says “they’ll” defend the KOM lead with whatever energy he and the team have left tomorrow. In the meantime, whatever the gap was, the race for the overall lead, and the Yellow Jersey, raged on behind them. Again, there was some shifting in the top five riders, but no change in the Yellow Jersey. Primoz Roglic, led by his teammate, American rider Sepp Kuss, stayed up front and maintained his :57 second lead over fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar. Mikel Landa had a strong day and moved up to #5 overall while, despite an inopportune flat tire, Richie Porte kept his hold on # 4 overall, but 3’-06” behind Roglic
“It’s been two hard days in a row. But again the team did a great job, I was there, so yeah… It’s one day less to work,” said Roglic. “So far we did a great job along with the team. There are some tricky days to come. The time trial will decide all the rankings, but tomorrow is another day to be focused because it’s far from a flat stage.”
Stage 19 is Friday, and while they are out of the mountain climbs of the last two days, it will not be a flat easy ride. Stage 20 on Saturday is the time trial stage to which Roglic refers as the decisive stage. If things don’t change, both days promise exciting bicycle racing before the riders head into Paris on Sunday for the final Stage 21.
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