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Moment of truth for Thomas as brutal stage awaits

Moment of truth for Thomas as brutal stage awaits”

Geraint Thomas (Sky) in the yellow jersey, second-placed Chris Froome (Sky) and the other riders atop the standings trailed about 9 minutes behind.

Quintana, a three-time podium finisher in the Tour, finished 28 seconds ahead of Irish rider Dan Martin, while Thomas crossed third, 47 seconds back.

Meanwhile, Peter Sagan, the three-time defending world champion and three-time stage victor in this year's race, crashed on the descent from the Col de Val Louron, the second mountain of the day.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has condemned the actions of protestors and said says it would have been irresponsible to further endanger the riders as he pointed to dramatic crashes suffered during the stage by Philippe Gilbert and Adam Yates who both went down on descents while leading the race in separate incidents.

"This was all I had, this was all we had today", Dumoulin continued.

Sticking his tongue out in apparent exhaustion, it was a strong signal that Froome has reached his limit after winning the last three Grand Tours - the Tour and Spanish Vuelta a year ago and the Giro d'Italia in May.

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"I think he's got nearly a two-minute lead on Dumoulin, which I think is a pretty comfortable lot", Froome said. "Nairo came with me".

In a weird postscript to a dramatic day in the Pyrenees, Froome was riding off the top of the final climb of the day - the Col du Portet - after the race had finished when he was grabbed by an over officious gendarme.

But the real interest was in the race for third as the group containing all three general classification contenders - Thomas, Froome and Tom Dumoulin - battled it out for precious seconds.

The British rider was hoping to join the likes of Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Miguel Indurain and Bernard Hinault, as the only riders in the Tour's history to win the race five times.

"Thomas has been the strongest, and that's the situation now", Dumoulin said.

It was just another bump in the road for Froome, who said after Stage 17 that he'll ride in support of teammate and overall leader Geraint Thomas.

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Tour director Christian Prudhomme called on spectators to behave themselves, given the already unsafe nature of the event - evidenced by Philippe Gilbert's crash when leading on Tuesday that ultimately led to the Quick-Step Floors man withdrawing from the race.

The farmers' protest occurred 30 kilometres into the 218-kilometre (135.5-mile) leg from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

The events of stage 16 did highlight again, though, just how vulnerable the riders are.

But on a day that saw Slovakian Peter Sagan mathematically secure his sixth green jersey for the points competition, the day belonged to Alaphilippe.The 26-year-old Frenchman has spent the past days chasing points to add to his collection for the King of the Mountains' polka dot jersey.

"On a 200-kilometer stage, riders probably won't attack on the first climb".

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