Jonas Vingegaard has extended his Tour de France lead ©Getty Images

Denmark's Jonas Vingegaard of Team Jumbo-Visma claimed a crucial victory on stage 18 of the Tour de France today, taking valuable time out of his yellow jersey opponent Slovenian Tadej Pogačar of UAE Team Emirates to put one hand on the title.

A mountainous 143.5 kilometres between Lourdes and Hautacam stood in the way of Vingegaard, who finished second to the two-time winner Pogačar on yesterday's stage by a bike's length.

With it being the last mountain stage of the Tour, it looked to be the penultimate chance for a shake-up in the order, with two flatter stages and a time trial still to come.

Both riders took the fight to each other with attacks, but Pogačar went down after catching his wheel in gravel.

Vingegaard waited for his foe to catch back up as a mark of respect.

As the pace slowed, others came back into contention, including Vingegaard's team-mate Belgian Wout van Aert, Colombian Dani Martinez of Ineos Grenadiers and France's Thibaut Pinot of Groupama-FDJ, who all survived the Col de Spandelles climb.

Tadej Pogačar has slipped further behind in his title defence ©Getty Images
Tadej Pogačar has slipped further behind in his title defence ©Getty Images

After the descent turned into another climb, a Van Aert attack dropped Pinot, with another burst putting distance to Pogačar and Martinez.

Vingegaard used that opportunity to stick with his team-mate and then kick on in a solo attempt that left his main rival far behind and crossed the line in 3 hours 59min 50sec.

Pogačar was 1min 04sec adrift in the end, fittingly needing a miracle from Lourdes to win a third title in a row as he is now 3:26 behind the Dane.

Van Aert's hard effort was rewarded, with the points leader finishing third, 2:10 down on his team-mate.

Britain's Geraint Thomas of Ineos Grenadiers is now eight minutes behind the general classification leader, finishing nearly three minutes behind Vingegaard today in fourth place, just four seconds in front of France's David Gaudu of Groupama-FDJ.

Competition continues with a 188.5km route between Castelnau-Magnoac and Cahors tomorrow.