Flat 18th stage of the Tour de France begins



BLAGNAC, France (AP) — Tour de France riders have begun the 18th stage with Bradley Wiggins likely to hold the yellow jersey through the mostly flat trek through central France.

Friday’s ride takes the pack along 138.3 miles from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde, setting up the last time trial on Saturday, and the finish on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday.

Wiggins, looking to become Britain’s first Tour winner, took a major step on Thursday toward victory by holding off challengers over the last big mountain test.

Overall, Wiggins has a 2-minute, 5-second lead over Sky teammate Christopher Froome in second place. Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali trails in third, 2:41 behind. Defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia is sixth, 9:57 back.