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Summary

  1. Vincenzo Nibali wins stage to extend race lead
  2. France's Thibot Pinot second to move second overall
  3. Rafal Majka third to win King of Mountains jersey
  4. Jean-Christophe Peraud up to third overall
  5. Stage 18 - 145.5km Pau to Hautacam

Live Reporting

By Chris Bevan

All times stated are UK

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  1. Post update

    Time for me to call it a day - and it's been another good one for Vincenzo Nibali, who moves ever closer to his first Tour triumph. Here's the stage report.

    Thanks for keeping me company over the last few hours, and hope to see you again for that fast finish on Friday.

  2. Post update

    Friday - stage 19

    Stage 19

    On Friday, stage 19 takes the race 208.5km from Mauburguet Pays du Val d'Adour to Bergerac. Much to the relief of the 165 riders left in this year's Tour, it is mostly flat!

    "After three tough days in the mountains, the sprinters will come back to the fore," says Team Sky's Geraint Thomas.

    "I expect a bunch sprint in Bergerac."

  3. Post update

    GET INVOLVED

    Porthos from London: Chapeaus off to Nibali. Looking forward to watching the podium scramble over the coming days!

  4. Post update

    Polkadot Jersey

    Classification

    Rafal Majka

    We know who is wearing yellow and we also know who is staying in polka dots. Poland's Rafal Majka has an unassailable lead in the King of the Mountains category as the race leaves the Pyrenees.

    1. Rafal Majka (Pol/Tinkoff) 181 pts

    2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 168 pts

    3. Joaquim Rodriguez 112 pts

  5. Post update

    Yellow Jersey

    Classification

    Vincenzo Nibali

    So, Italy's Vincenzo Nibali continues his procession to Paris - extending his lead to ensure he will spend his 16th day in the yellow jersey on Friday.

  6. Post update

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    Aramis from Newbury: Nibali's dominance has been hugely impressive. Not even the ghost of Chris Froome would be able to catch him on this showing.

  7. Post update

    GET INVOLVED

    Andy in Armagh: Absolute dominance from Vincenzo Nibali. Incredible stuff.

  8. Post update

    Stage 18 result

    1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana), 4hrs 04min 17sec

    2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ.fr) +1.10

    3. Rafal Majka (Pol/Tinkoff), +1.12

    4. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R), +1.15

    5. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC), same time

  9. Post update

    Magnus Backstedt

    Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    "It is not over for second and third and Saturday's time trial is shaping up to a a monster of a ride. It is between Pinot, Peraud, Valverde and Bardet in terms of who is going to be able to step on the podium.

    "Valverde has a chance, he has improved his time trialling and he is going to be in with a shout if he can pedal the mountains out of his legs on Friday's flat stage.

    "I would bet on Peraud finishing on the podium but unless Pinot has done something with his time trial he's going to find it difficult to hold off Valverde.

    "I think it is done for Bardet but three Frenchman in top five is great."

  10. Post update

    GET INVOLVED

    Andrew Harvey: What a performance from Vincenzo Nibali! Super-human stuff from 'Nibbles'! Wonder if he'd have been this dominant with Froome and Contador still in?

  11. Post update

    The race for the podium

    Yellow Jersey

    Classification

    Alejandro Valverde has slipped off the podium. He started the day in second place but ends it in fourth. It is not over for him yet, though, The Spanish time trial champion can claw back some of those seconds in Saturday's 54km time trial from Bergerac to Perigueux.

    As discussed, nobody is in the same postcode as overall leader Vincenzo Nibali, though. He has the race sewn up.

    1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 80hrs 45mins 45secs

    2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ.fr) +7.10

    3. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R) +7.23

    4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +7.25

  12. Post update

    Magnus Backstedt

    Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    "It's been an incredible power display by Vincenzo Nibali. He is definitely a worthy winner of the Tour de France. He has been out there attacking at any opportunity.

    "He's still got a couple of days to look after himself but he has a strong team to do that and he is an aware rider. I hope nothing happens to him. In terms of pure performance he is the best rider here."

  13. Post update

    Hugs and smiles for Nibali at the finish. And Thibaut Pinot is already on a warm-down bike. He's only been up two of the hardest hills of the Tour de France already today. Give the lad a rest.

  14. Post update

    Polkadot Jersey

    Classification

    Thibaut Pinot sprints past Rafal Majka to take second place. Majka doesn't mind, because he has that polka dot jersey for keeps. But how far back is Alejandro Valverde?

  15. Post update

    Vincenzo Nibali wins stage 18

    The Italian zips up his yellow jersey and lifts both arms skyward as he crosses the line. That's his fourth stage win, and the Tour is is in the bag.

  16. Post update

    The race for the podium

    So, Nibali has 500m to go to the finish line. He has won this stage and is on his way to winning the Tour, but behind him who will steal a few seconds in the race for the podium? Rafal Majka will not care, because if he finishes in the top four, he will wrap up the King of the Mountains category.

  17. Post update

    GET INVOLVED

    Liam Dickinson: Nibali has been a machine on this tour. Well deserved, think he'd have beaten Froome and Contador regardless.

  18. Post update

    Magnus Backstedt

    Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    "Valverde drank from a bottle given to him by a fan. You've got to be careful with what you take from spectators unless it's water you're going to throw over your head. I was always told not to drink anything that you are given from someone you don't know. You just don't know what you're ingesting."

  19. Post update

    Vincenzo Nibali has a lead of about one minute and 15 seconds on the four riders behind him (Peraud, Van Garderen, Pinot and Majka). He is inside the last 2km of this climb up to the finish line at the summit of Hautacam.

  20. Post update

    The race for the podium

    Alejandro Valverde's recovery continues but his group is still 30 seconds behind. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing). Those three have just passed Rafal Majka.

  21. Post update

    Rob Hatch

    BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentator

    "The Spanish fans have been out with the paintbrush writing Valverde, Valverde, Valverde on the road about 3km from the finish. Some French fans have crossed his name out and written 'you're not welcome' and 'you're rubbish' - it's not particularly nice but you can understand it."

  22. Post update

    Yellow Jersey

    Classification

    Vincenzo Nibali is still going strong at the front of the race, with 3.6km to go until the finish line. Rafal Majka is 29 seconds back, battling to keep hold of his king of the mountains jersey. He needs to finish fifth or better to be sure of that.

  23. Post update

    The race for the podium

    Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), who started the day in third place, is trying hard to make the most of Alejandro Valverde's struggles. Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R) and Romain Bardet (AG2R) are still fighting too. But Valverde is not giving up just yet. He is back in touch with the riders around him in the general classification.

  24. Post update

    Alejandro Valverde cracks

    The bunch containing the other riders battling for the podium places has dropped Alejandro Valverde. He is out the back and rocking badly. This could be his top-three bid done and dusted.

  25. Post update

    Simon, Cheshire: Last rider to dominate it like Nibali? 'Big Mig' Miguel Indurain maybe?

  26. Post update

    Magnus Backstedt

    Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    "Nibali was lucky to only clip her with his elbow. It's becoming one of the more dangerous things with all the people out on the roadside. I'm not sure I'm that bothered if her phone is OK - it might teach her a lesson."

  27. OUCH!

    Hang on, this race is not done yet. Another fan taking a selfie leaves out a stray elbow that clips Vincenzo Nibali as he continues to race up this hill. He stays in his saddle, thankfully, and that could have been a lot worse. The fan dropped her phone, though.

  28. Post update

    Polkadot Jersey

    Classification

    Rafal Majka can hang on to his polka dot jersey as leader of the King of the Mountains category if he finishes second today. He is trying his best, and is now in second place on the road, overtaking Mikel Nieve and trailing Nibali by 33 seconds with 6.5km to go.

  29. Post update

    Yellow Jersey

    Classification

    Vincenzo Nibali is still a man in a hurry. He went past Mikel Nieve as if he were pedalling backwards and accelerated as he did so. Just 7.5km to go to the summit and he will be there very soon at this rate.

  30. Post update

    Vincenzo Nibali is rocketing up this mountain and is only 15 seconds behind Mikel Nieve now. They are 8.4km from the finish at the summit of Hautacam.

  31. Post update

    Magnus Backstedt

    Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    "It's clear Nibali wants a stage in the Pyrenees and what a stage this is finishing on the Hautacam. It is one of the iconic climbs that all climbers want to win. Only a crash can stop him winning the race."

  32. Post update

    Vincenzo Nibali attacks again!

    The Italian leaves Chris Horner in his slipstream. Only Mikel Nieve stands between him and his fourth stage win of this year's Tour. He is just 30 seconds behind the Team Sky rider, and closing fast.

  33. Post update

    Nibali the king of the mountains?

    If Vincenzo Nibali wins this stage, as he clearly wants to do, he will take over as leader in the King of the Mountains category as well as the overall race lead.

    They are 48 seconds behind Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) and pedalling hard in the Pyrenees heat with 9.6km to go to the finish.

  34. Post update

    Magnus Backstedt

    Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    "Nobody looks at chasing Nibali. They know he's too far ahead in the lead of the race. They are looking at the podium positions and finishing second and third overall."

  35. Post update

    In the peloton

    Back in the bunch, and veteran rider Chris Horner attacks. Vincenzo Nibali goes with him, and nobody else follows. I think that is the white flag being waved on the general classification. They will fight out the podium places on the way up to the finish.

  36. Post update

    In the break

    Mikel Nieve has put in one heck of an effort there, to leave Blel Kadri in his wake. The bad news for him is that he still has about 11km of climbing to go, and the gap to the yellow jersey bunch is not getting any bigger.

  37. Post update

    Magnus Backstedt

    Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    "Definitely a good move by Mikel. If he has the legs, he had to go. The difference is only one minute 18 seconds ahead of the yellow jersey bunch though. It will be difficult to hold on."

  38. Post update

    In the break

    Team Sky's Mikel Nieve attacks!

  39. Post update

    In the break

    The leaders hit the lower slopes of the Hautacam, where the crowds are already five-deep on the road-side. That gap to the yellow jersey bunch keeps coming down - dropping to one minute and 20 seconds with 12.8km to go.

    Apparently Rojas Gil spent too much time sheltering behind a team car, which is why he has been thrown out of the race.

  40. Post update

    Another one bites the dust

    Race radio is reporting that one of Alejandro Valverde's Movistar team-mates, Spain's Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil, has been disqualified. Not sure why. More on that when it is confirmed.

  41. Post update

    Stage 18 - what is happening?

    So, this is how we are looking as the riders race ever closer towards the foot of Hautacam.

    Blel Kadri (Ag2r) and Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) lead the way, after bursting clear on the way up Tourmalet. They have 17km to go, the last 14km or so of which will be uphill.

    Then come Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp), Yuri Trofimov (Katusha), Daniel Oss (BMC), Julien Simon (Cofidis) and Jan Bakelants (OPQS) in a six-strong chase group about one minute and 30 seconds back.

    Only another 30 seconds or so behind are the yellow jersey group of race leader Vincenzo Nibali. His Astana team-mates are setting the pace at the front of the peloton, with a lot of Movistar and BMC riders keeping them company. Nibali wants a stage win today, by the looks of things.

  42. Post update

    Magnus Backstedt

    Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    "I cannot see anything other than fireworks on the final climb of the Hautacam. All the riders fighting for the podium positions are going to have to attack each other and try and take time off their rivals. It should be a spectacular finish. I only hope they don't let me down with what I'm expecting."

  43. Post update

    GET INVOLVED

    Casper from Edinburgh: Watching the Tour, it's amazing how chatty all the cyclists are. I attempted the Tourmalet last Sunday and it was like cycling in a peloton of ghosts.

  44. Post update

    In the peloton

    As you were. Alejandro Valverde and his Movistar team-mates have been caught by Vincenzo Nibali and co. The gap to the two leaders continues to come down with 25km to go, ducking under the three minute mark, and it will be interesting to see how big an advantage Blel Khadri and Mikel Nieve have when they start the final climb.

  45. Post update

    In the break

    Lots happening on the road behind them, but Blel Khadri and Team Sky's Mikel Nieve are still out in front on their own. They are now three minutes and 15 seconds clear of the yellow jersey bunch, with 27km to go.

    The last 14km of that is all uphill - a steep climb to the summit of Hautacam.

  46. Post update

    In the peloton

    As Magnus says, Valverde has not really made made the most of this daring escape attempt. The yellow jersey bunch, containing all the men at the top of the general classification, are now only 10 seconds behind him.

  47. Post update

    Magnus Backstedt

    Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    "The three Movistar riders are not working well together. When descending as a team if you think you have to brake to stay behind the rider in front of you, just go past, keep changing the order and that brings the speed up.

    "Also, descend as a train. If there are three of you, the one at the back puts one hand on the backside of the rider in front of him and he does that to the man in front of him, so the rider in the last wheel has no wind resistance and is going faster and pushing the others."

  48. Post update

    In the break

    The riders continue to head down the Tourmalet towards Luz Saint Sauveur, and Alejandro Valverde has caught more of the riders ahead of him, including his two team-mates Jon Izaguirre and Jesus Herrada. If nothing else, Valverde is looking to cement his podium place today.

    Behind him, BMC have made a move. Their main man Tejay van Garderen is in sixth-place overall and the best-placed rider who can make up a chunk of time in Saturday's time trial. They do not want to lose any more time today.

  49. Post update

    Downhill racer

    Alejandro Valverde

    Wow. Wow. Wow. Alejandro Valverde attacks, zooming off the front of the yellow jersey bunch as if he is treading on the turbo boost. The man in second place overall is absolutely flying down this mountain and is about to join up with two of his Movistar team-mates, who are up the road (or down the hill) ahead of him.

    Valverde has a lead of about 15 seconds on Vincenzo Nibali and the rest of that bunch, but he is looking like he will be opening that up even more.

  50. Post update

    In the break

    About 45km to go for Blel Kadri and Mikel Nieve, and the next 30km or so are all downhill. Their lead on the yellow jersey bunch is four minutes and 23 seconds.

  51. Post update

    In the peloton

    Yellow Jersey

    Classification

    Back at the summit of Tourmalet and here come race leader Vincenzo Nibali and the rest of the big hitters at the top of the general classification. They are about to head down through the mountain mists, and are about four minutes behind Blel Khadri and Mikel Nieve.

  52. Post update

    Magnus Backstedt

    Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    "We've had some spectacular racing over these mountains, the Tourmalet and Hautacam, in the past and it is promising to be the same again today."

  53. Post update

    BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

    Rob Hatch and Magnus Backstedt are in the commentary box for the conclusion of today's stage. You can listen via the Live Coverage tab console at the top of the page.

  54. Post update

    In the break

    That's the way it goes sometimes. Blel Kadri (Ag2r) did zero work for most of the way up the Tourmalet then zoomed to the front to ensure he was first over the summit, collecting a prize of 5,000 Euros in the process. He and Team Sky's Mikel Nieve are now tearing down the other side, braving some big drops off the side of the road. Rather them than me.

  55. Post update

    In the break

    I have not forgotten about Phil Coo... sorry, I mean Tommy Voeckler. The Europcar man is on his own in the road, gurning his way to the summit and chasing the three riders - Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp-Endura) and Yuri Trofimov (Katusha) - who are closest to the two leaders, about 50 seconds back.

    Voeckler's rubber face is looking even more pained than usual, though, and I think he has cracked. Not far to go to the summit, but it will feel like he is cycling through custard.

  56. Post update

    GET INVOLVED

    Dan from London: The weather was absolutely shocking when we did the Etape last Sunday. I was shivering so much on the Tourmalet descent I feared losing control of the bike. They've got it easy today :-)

  57. Post update

    GET INVOLVED

    From Andrew: Today was the last big chance to break Nibali, but he looks too comfortable in the saddle.

  58. Post update

    In the break

    Blel Kadri (Ag2r) and Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) continue driving onwards and upwards to the race's highest point in the Pyrenees. How much would Team Sky love a stage win at the end of an otherwise miserable Tour? Lots. Lots of work still to do, though.

    Nieve is looking the strongest of the lead duo, who are still four minutes clear of the yellow jersey bunch, with about 15 riders strung out on the road in between.

    But Kadri is not doing any work to increase their advantage and they face a long descent down the Tourmalet before they start the steep climb up to the finish on Hautacam.

  59. Post update

    In the peloton

    Tour de France leader Vincenzo Nibali

    The man in the yellow jersey of the overall leader, Italy's Vincenzo Nibali is still right near the front of the main bunch, and he still has some of his Astana team-mates with him. That jersey is now completely unzipped, though. Even Nibali is feeling the heat as he heads uphill.

    The gap to the two leaders, Blel Khadri and Mikel Nieve, is hovering around the four-minute mark, with about 5km to go to the top of Tourmalet and about 55km to the finish.

  60. Post update

    In the peloton

    Team Sky's Richie Porte

    A lot of riders in the main bunch are feeling the heat too, with about 8km to go to the top of Col du Tourmalet. Team Sky's Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas are among them and their day is evidently going to be all about grimly hanging on to the finish.

    In his stage-by-stage guide before the Tour started, Thomas chose Porte as his rider to watch today, saying "it's one last chance for the Australian to try and take some time off his rivals in the mountains".

    The gruelling demands of the Tour means that will not be happening, and Porte is so far out of contention on the last day in the Pyrenees it wil not make any difference to the top of the general classification, unfortunately.

  61. Post update

    In the break

    That all changed pretty quickly. Blel Kadri and Mikel Nieve reeled in Sylvain Chavanel and then flew past him. With 60km of the stage to go, much of it uphill, our two leaders are four minutes and five seconds clear.

  62. Post update

    Right, what's happening at the front of the race? That breakaway group has broken up, with Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) out in front on his own - jersey unzipped in trademark style and flapping in the breeze. Behind him, Blel Kadri (Ag2r) and Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) are fighting hard to catch his tail.

    Then there is a bigger group, about 30 seconds back. But a lot of the escapees are feeling the pace as the race heads uphill.

  63. Post update

    Phil Cool

    It is Tommy Voeckler, the Phil Cool of cycling, who Europcar hope will deliver them a stage win today, but it will be a big ask for him to hold off the big boys at the top of the general classification on the way up to the finish line at the top of Hautacam. Voeckler will definitely be worth watching, though, whatever happens.

  64. Post update

    Just the 17km to reach the top of the Tourmalet then. That's about an hour of pedalling hard up a mountain.

    The breakaway riders have started their ascent, and have started to split up already. When the peloton (which is now just over four minutes back) reaches this point there will be riders scattered all over the slopes.

  65. Post update

    As Gary says below, the weather in the Pyrenees is a lot better today, although rain was forecast for both of the big climbs that are to come. For Gary's sake (and the riders) I hope it stays away for a few more hours.

  66. Post update

    GET INVOLVED

    Gerard from Stratford: I was one of the 10,000 on L'etape, and the weather was so bad I was slower descending the Tourmalet than I was riding up to the foot of it!

  67. Post update

    GET INVOLVED

    Gary, Southampton: I did the L'etape du Tour on Sunday and now know exactly what these guys are facing. It was awful weather when we did it but I am now sat on side of Hautacam topping up the tan eagerly awaiting the peloton to show me how quick you can actually cycle up it!

  68. Post update

    Right then, with about 75km left of today's stage, things are about to get going - the 20 escapees are going through Bagneres de Bigorre at the bottom of the Tourmalet.

    Three-and-a-half minutes back, the big players in the peloton are massing at the front. Vincenzo Nibali's Astana team are still leading the chase, with Movistar and FDJ.fr up there with them.

  69. Post update

    Green Jersey

    Classification

    Peter Sagan might have the green jersey wrapped up but the man in second place in that category - Bryan Coquard - is still scrapping for every point. Coquard, who is part of the Europcar contingent in the breakaway, held off Lars Boom to win the intermediate sprint at the 61km mark at Trebons. Very good work by the Frenchman, although he did drop his race radio in the process.

  70. Post update

    GET INVOLVED

    Rich in Bristol via text: Good to see the Europcar GGG in the breakaway! Green Gurning Goblin!

  71. Post update

    GET INVOLVED

    Paul in London via text: Tackled the Tourmalet and Hautacam a few weeks ago; Tourmalet longer but much steadier gradient - much harder to get into a rhythm on the Hautacam.

  72. Post update

    In the break

    Yellow Jersey

    Classification

    The good news for the breakaway group of 20 riders is that they are into the last 100km of of today's 145.5km stage.

    The bad news is that they have those two testing climbs in front of them, and the peloton is looking super-keen to reel them in. Led by overall leader Vincenzo Nibali's Astana team-mates, the main pack has reduced the gap to three minutes and 15 seconds, and it is falling fast.

  73. Post update

    Today's two special climbs

    There are a couple of smaller 'category three' climbs early in today's stage - the 470m Cote de Benejacq which the riders have already gone over, and the 530m Cote de Loucrup, which they are fast approaching.

    Those are just bumps compared to the Tourmalet and the Hautacam, which are both "hors categorie", or beyond categorisation.

    Legend has it that the numbers originally referred to the gear that a car would have to be in to go up it.

    Hors categorie climbs, it is said, are impassable by car. And for most people by bike too, although more than 8,000 of the 10,000 riders who attempted this stage as part of this year's L'Etape du Tour did manage to complete it.

  74. Post update

    GET INVOLVED

    John McEnerney: Last big day for any damage to be done to Vicenzo Nibali's lead, its a big ask for Alejandro Valverde, he doesn't have the legs to take 5+mins off Nibali! Nibali too strong.

  75. Post update

    Today's two special climbs

    Plaque on the Tourmalet

    Today is really all about the Col du Tourmalet, and the Hautacam. The first a huge climb, the second an incredibly steep one.

    The riders are about 25km from the bottom of the Tourmalet, which is the most-visited mountain in the Tour's 101 years - the race has gone up it 79 times.

    It was also the location of one of the Tour's most famous legends, when Eugene Christophe snapped his fork in a crash while chasing overall victory in 1913 and stopped at a blacksmith to forge a new one himself. I'd like to see Vincenzo Nibali do that.

  76. Post update

    Polkadot Jersey

    Classification

    Things are a bit closer in the King of the Mountains category, however.

    Poland's Rafal Majka only pulled on the polka dot jersey for the first time before Wednesday's stage, when he was one point clear of Joaquim Rodriguez, but went on to win it and move 31 points clear in the process.

    Overall leader Vincenzo Nibali is now Majka's closest challenger, but plenty more points to play for today.

  77. Post update

    Green Jersey

    Classification

    So, you know who is wearing yellow - and who is likely to stay there, barring a crash. What about the other prizes on offer at this year's Tour?

    The green points jersey belongs to Cannondale's Peter Sagan, and might as well have his name on it to be honest.

    The Slovakian has 408 points, meaning he is streets ahead of France's Bryan Coquard - who is in second place on 233 points and the only person who can mathematically still deny him. But with only 190 points still up for grabs, and Sagan 175 points clear, it will not be long until that particular race is officially over.

  78. Post update

    In the break

    The peloton have just completed the first 20km of today's 145.5km route and a group of 20 riders have managed to escape, with cycling's greatest gurner, Thomas Voeckler, among them. They are just over two minutes clear.

  79. Post update

    Another one bites the dust

    Heinrich Haussler

    166 survivors started the day by rolling out of Pau a few minutes ago but we have already lost a rider. Australia's Heinrich Haussler of the IAM team has pulled out, because of a stomach bug by the sounds of it. So close to Paris too...

  80. Post update

    The race for the podium

    Yellow Jersey

    Classification

    While Vincenzo Nibali looks nailed on to finish the Tour in the leader's yellow jersey he has worn for the last 14 days, behind him the race for the podium is anything but clear cut.

    Spain's Alejandro Valverde is still in second but Jean-Christophe Peraud is in hot pursuit of fellow Frenchman Thibaut Pinot, who is currently third. That particular battle might provide most of today's excitement.

    1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 76hrs 41mins 28secs

    2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +5:26

    3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ.fr) +6:00

    4. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R) +6:08

    5. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) +7:34

  81. Post update

    Welcome to stage 18

    Stage 18

    Yes, hello, and welcome to Stage 18 of the 2014 Tour de France: a 145.5km hike that takes in one iconic climb in the shape of the 2,115m Col du Tourmalet and ends at the top of another - the 1,515m Hautacam.

    "Expect Vincenzo Nibali to be all guns blazing", says Team Sky rider and BBC Sport columnist Geraint Thomas, but will the Italian be minded to produce any fireworks with the Tour so firmly in his grasp?

  82. Post update

    Now or never to stop Nibali

    Tour de France leader Vincenzo Nibali

    If anybody is going to stop Vincenzo Nibali's procession to the top of the podium in Paris on Sunday, then it really has to happen in the next few hours. The last day in the mountains starts here (well, in Pau a few moments ago actually).