The stage took the riders from Embrun to L'alpe d'Huez.
210.5 kilometres including some very tough hill climbs. Cadel sits just off the pace 1:34 off the leaders. Much of the pre-race analysis suggested that if Evans could sit within 2:30 of the leader at the end of the Alps, he would be favoured to go on with it. As such, he looks in a commanding position at this stage.
Stage 18 seems like a key one for the Evans tilt. Now out of the mountains, the stage from Bourg D'Oisans to Saint Ettienne could provide some crucial ground. This is not a completely flat stage though, with a category 2, 3 and 4 climb on the way. The category 4 climb comes at the end of the stage and seems to make the likelihood of a successful breakaway unlikely.
Anyway, this looks like a good one to stay up for. It seems unlikely that Cadel will reclaim the Yellow Jersey tonight, but with only 3 stages to come after this, a successful night will have to involve a nice 0:30 to come off the leader Carlos Sastre. Also interesting, this is about as close as the stage gets to the Beaujolais region, so it should be quite fun to watch Gate stumbling around tasting some of the tastiest young wines on the planet. Did I mention that I will be there in a couple of months???
Anyway, let's hope we see Cadel reunited with the Yellow Jersey soon, and more importantly with his little golden friend.
Another completely unrelated point... How good would a Tour de France trip be in relation to other sports tours. Poll to come!