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Alaphilippe at the double as Thomas eyes Tour's crucial 17th stage

27 July, 2018, 23:31 | Author: Delia Walker
  • Arnaud Demare celebrates after winning Stage 18 of the Tour de France. EPA

Thomas was troubled today - briefly isolated too on the Col d'Aubisque - but he managed to win a sprint for second place on the stage in Laruns, earning six bonus seconds as he chalked off one more day in his flawless race. "We are expecting a lot of attacks from the guys - especially on the [Col du] Tourmalet and certainly on the last climb".

Wednesday's stage victor Nairo Quintana of Movistar was caught in a crash along with Mitchelton-Scott's Adam Yates with 105km to go, but they were soon back on their bikes. It's one for the team to control for most of the day.

A member of the Gendarme caused the two men to stop abruptly and crash before he then pulled Chris Froome off his bicycle.

"Froomey said on the radio at maybe 5k or 4k to go, that he wasn't feeling super", Welshman Thomas said. "But hopefully he won't have to do much". A day after the sprinters got an opportunity to contest one more finish before Paris, the mountain goats of the peloton get a last chance to assert themselves on Friday.

"I was just hanging on there, doing the most I could", Froome said. "It didn't feel like a grab, but like a hit", Thomas said prior to the start of stage 18 from Trie-sur-Baise to Pau.

Froome, attempting a first Giro d'Italia-Tour double in 20 years, cracked two km from the finish when Dutchman Tom Dumoulin attacked, and slipped from second to third overall.

Greipel, one of several sprinters to pull out in the Alps, while others, like Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel, missed the time cut, accused Demare of holding on to a vehicle to make it through the mountains on stage 17. Despite Greipel's apology, Demare said he had used his comments as motivation.




"It was hard but I thought it would actually be harder", said the Slovak. "Obviously that insulted me".

The Frenchman added that comments from German rival Andre Greipel, who accused him of holding on to a auto to make it through the mountains, spurred him on.

And a day after Slovakian sprint king Peter Sagan suffered injuries in a crash that nearly ended his campaign, Demare was keen to capitalise.

The Bora-Hansgrohe rider hobbled on to his bike in the morning but had put his team on the front in the final few kilometres before eventually finishing eighth.

But on a day that saw Slovakian Peter Sagan mathematically secure his sixth green jersey for the points competition, the day belonged to Alaphilippe. "I will keep refuelling, eating and drinking as best I can and not let any complacency creep in". "My physical condition is a bit worse than it was, but I took advantage of it to live the race from a different perspective..."

Hence Thomas may need to gain more time on him on Friday to secure a comfortable buffer going into Saturday's "race of truth" and ensure his ride to Paris on Sunday's finish is as the Tour victor.

But after Cavendish missed the time cut on stage 11 of this year's race - one of several sprinters to depart in the mountains - he will now line up with Dimension Data in London.

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