After taking his first Tour de France stage victory, Romain Bardet paid tribute to the vociferous home crowd for roaring him over the line.
Romain Bardet was grateful for the vocal home support which helped him to victory in stage 18 of the Tour de France on Thursday.
The AG2R La Mondiale rider led at the summit of the penultimate Col du Glandon climb and descended smoothly ahead of the several hairpins of Lacets de Montvernier.
After a gruelling 186.5-kilometre stage between Gap and St-Jean-de-Maurienne, containing seven climbs, Bardet came home 33 seconds clear of compatriot Pierre Roland (Europcar) and almost a minute ahead of Movistar's Winner Anacona.
Team Sky's Chris Froome retained his three minute, 10 second advantage in the general classification but it was Frenchman Bardet who was the man of the moment.
"It was a very tricky start today," he said. "Everyone was pretty tired at the start so it was tough.
"I am a good descender so I had just enough energy left to cross the line at the end and I am delighted.
"I knew this finish and we took it on in the Criterium du Dauphine as well. I know this route off by heart, but the last kilometres, even though I knew them well, were very hard.
"Getting in the breakaway was really, really hard, but I wanted to be in the mix at the end so I had to go through that pain.
"It was amazing at the end of the climb - the relief at knowing it was all downhill.
"It's been amazing, phenomenal, the crowds it was like being in a football stadium, there was that much noise generated. I felt really supported by the crowd today."