Michal Kwiatkowski believes that his stage victory on Thursday makes up for a lot in INEOS's difficult Tour de France, which lost title defender Egan Bernal on Wednesday.

The Pole hopes that the British formation's daily success will benefit the Colombian.

"We spoke to Egan this morning. He was obviously disappointed, but he wished us good luck. I hope he enjoyed watching the last kilometers", Kwiatkowski said, shortly after he finished first in the last Alpine stage.

It was not exciting in the last meters, because Kwiatkowski was left after 168 kilometers with his teammate Richard Carapaz.

They had shaken off all other escapees.

Kwiatkowski and Carapaz did not make it a sprint-a-deux, but hugged each other extensively before the finish and crossed the line side by side.

Kwiatkowski's wheel crossed the line a little earlier, while his Ecuadorian teammate took the lead in the mountains classification.

"I have had many beautiful moments in cycling, but this was a new experience", 30-year-old Kwiatkowski, world champion in 2014, said about the end of the eighteenth stage.

"We enjoyed it, the gap was big. I am grateful to Richard and the rest of the team and I will never forget this."

The difference between Michal Kwiatkowski and

'We're gonna celebrate this tonight'

INEOS had actually wanted to compete with Bernal for the overall victory in the Tour, but he lost a lot of time last week compared to yellow jersey wearer Primoz Roglic and decided to leave on Wednesday partly due to back pain.

Because of Kwiatkowski's win, there is still a small party at INEOS a day later.

"We are going to celebrate this tonight", said the stage winner.

"After so many stages, we have earned this."

The Tour continues on Friday with a hill stage over 160 kilometers, which may end with a mass sprint.

It does not appear that Roglic's leadership position will be compromised.

Tom Dumoulin is the best Dutchman in ninth place.

See also: Stage 19: Sprinters hope for penultimate chance