photo credits @ ASO
Kasper Asgreen took a superb win in stage 18 of the Tour de France today, after the Danish rider scored Soudal Quick-Step its first win of the race ahead of a rampaging peloton.
Asgreen, along with the Lotto-Dstny duo of Pascal Eenkhorn and Victor Campenaerts and Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X), managed to hold on by just a handful of seconds to contest the sprint, with the Dane seizing the stage honors in Bourg-en-Bresse by mere millimeters.
Jasper Philipsen’s Alpecin-Deceuninck team led the peloton towards the finish, closing down the ever-increasing gap to the four men out front, with Campenaerts leading the quartet into the final kilometer.
The Belgian worked for Pascal Eenkhoorn, who had bridged across 58 kilometers earlier, but it was Asgreen who came away with an unlikely victory. The Dane came off the wheel of Abrahamsen after Campenaerts peeled off with 300 meters to go, successfully holding off Eenkhoorn in the dash to the line.
Asgreen, Abrahamsen and Campenaerts broke away from the peloton at the drop of the flag, later building up a small advantage of 1:40.
From there, Abrahamsen led over both the first and second climbs, while back in the bunch stage favorite Philipsen came under criticism when Eenkhoorn attacked, with the German rider seemingly accelerating out of the field to try to intimidate him, moving across his line to block him.
Back up front, Campanaerts was putting in huge pulls at the front, keeping the break’s gap at just under a minute with 30 kilometers remaining.
With 10 kilometers to go, the break was still clinging to a 22-second lead, however, Alpecin-Deceuninck, Bora-Hansgrohe and Lidl-Trek were chasing hard, with Bora-Hansgrohe’s Nils Politt and Bahrain-Victorious later stomping at the front, trimming the gap back to just 8-seconds with 2 kilometers remaining.
Coming into the final kilometer, the leaders still held a 6-second lead, with Campanaerts once again pulling hard at the front on behalf of Eenkhoorn, with Asgreen, Eenkhoorn and Abrahamsen managing to stay outside of the clutches of the peloton, taking the first three places after pulling off a brilliant coup.
Meanwhile, Jonas Vingegaard came home safely in the peloton surrounded by his Jumbo-Visma teammates to defend his lead in the yellow jersey. As expected, there were no changes in the overall standings or any of the other competitions.
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