July 23, 2015

SAINT-JEAN-DE-MAURIENNE, France (AP) The Latest from the Tour de France (all times local):


8:50 p.m.

The Tour de France has barred the driver of an official motorcycle in the entourage after he caused the crash of Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang during the 18th Stage.

His Astana team said Fuglsang, who lies 26th, was riding with stage winner Romain Bardet of France on the Thursday's toughest climb when the Dane's handlebars were clipped by the motorbike, and he re-injured a bruise on his hip in the fall.

Fuglsang was penalized himself for getting a brief tow from a team vehicle as he tried to catch up.

The infraction is known in cycling parlance as a ''stuck water bottle'' - so named as a penalty against riders who hold on too long to team cars when they're given water.


7:20 p.m.

Tour de France leader Chris Froome says he welcomes checks on bicycles for possible motors.

Race officials say the 30-year Briton's bike was one of six tested in a surprise check after the 18th stage, including that of stage winner Romain Bardet of France.

The international cycling union, UCI, has said it would carry out checks of bikes to ensure they don't have motors hidden in their frame, which could give cheaters a leg up in the race.

Froome says he believed the suspicions have been mainly in social media, adding ''surely they don't come from nowhere - the technology exists.''

''I'm happy that they're doing the checks - it's probably needed given all the rumors out there.''


5:40 p.m.

Two down, just two more to go for Tour de France leader Chris Froome.

Marking the halfway point of four days of climbing in the Alps, the British rider for Team Sky has comfortably maintained his race lead on Stage 18, riding to the finish in a group with the other podium contenders on Thursday.

The 2013 winner remains 3 minutes and 10 seconds ahead of second-placed Nairo Quintana and 4:09 ahead of the Colombian's Movistar teammate, Alejandro Valverde.

The Tour has now covered 3,000 kilometers (1,865 miles). Just two days of climbing in the Alps remain for Froome's rivals to try to dislodge him. The finish is Sunday in Paris.


5:25 p.m.

Romain Bardet has ridden alone down the huge Glandon pass and up the 18 hairpin bends of the previously unclimbed Montvernier Laces to take a stylish solo victory on Stage 18 of the Tour de France.

Bardet rode away at the top of the punishing Glandon climb - the hardest Alpine ascent so far - and built a lead on the long descent. He held it up the Montvernier Laces, where the road spaghettis back and forth in a spectacular series of switchbacks. Cheered on to the finish at Saint-Jean-De-Maurienne, he secured the second win by a French rider at this Tour.


4:15 p.m.

The manager of the Movistar team says Nairo Quintana wants to strike a one-two attack with teammate Alejandro Valverde against Tour de France leader Chris Froome.

On paper, that's the plan, Eusebio Unzue said before Thursday's Stage 18 in the Alps.

''The reality is that the race is dictating otherwise,'' Unzue said. ''The yellow jersey is simply the strongest.''

Quintana, in second place overall, edged Froome by a second a day earlier in the race's start into the Alps. Valverde rose to third from fourth overall after American rider Tejay van Garderen dropped out because of illness.

Quintana entered the day 3 minutes, 10 seconds behind Froome, while Valverde was 59 seconds slower.


12:40 p.m.

Tour de France riders have started the second of four punishing days in the Alps with race leader Chris Froome keeping close watch on his main rivals for the yellow jersey.

The 186.5-kilometer trek from Gap to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in Stage 18 takes the peloton over a whopping seven climbs - most mid-sized except for the Glandon pass, one of the hardest in pro cycling.

Froome beat back several attacks during the previous day's entree into the Alps. The 30-year-old Briton leads Colombia's Nairo Quintana who is second by 3 minutes, 10 seconds.

The race finishes Sunday on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

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