Britain's Geraint Thomas extended his Tour lead while Colombian Nairo Quintana attacked at the foot of the final climb up to the Col du Portet to snatch a prestigious victory 28 seconds ahead of Ireland's Dan Martin on Wednesday, but all eyes were on yellow jersey holder Thomas and four-time champion Froome.
Jul 25 2018 12:28 am CET The 16th stage of the Tour de France has been the first day in the Pyrenees and despite the lack of attacks in the peloton, the breakaway displayed a good performance that even included some worrying crashes.
Should he gain time on Thomas, the world time trial champion could still pip the Team Sky duo in Saturday's solo effort against the clock. "I planned to go earlier, which is why we put Darwin [Atapuma] and Kristijan [Durasek] in the break, but there was so much wind that it wasn't worth it". With six stages left of this race which ends in Paris on Sunday, Team Sky is in an excellent position to achieve a 1-2 and to secure a sixth win in seven years.
Starting the 17th stage with a deficit of 1min 39sec to Thomas, the Kenyan-born Briton showed rare glimpses of weakness on his way to finishing almost a minute behind his Welsh teammate at the final mountaintop finish of the race at Saint-Lary-Soulan won by Colombian rival Nairo Quintana of Movistar. "It's bike racing", Alaphilippe said.
"Froomey said on the radio (at) maybe 5k or 4k to go that he wasn't feeling super", Thomas said.
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Froome is attempting to match the Tour record of five victories shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.
"I want to say that I'm happy to be here after that tough moment", he said.
Less than 30 kilometers into the stage, a protest by French farmers brought to the riders to a halt after bales of hay were thrown onto the road.
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Thomas, who won back-to-back stages in the Alps to underline his yellow jersey credentials - and crucially give himself a 1:39 advantage over team leader Froome - is now assured of Froome's support over the coming stages. Froome was "the first rider off the climb, as others stayed for podium (ceremonies) - so the police officer thought he was a fan, " Millar said. "I stood on Val Louron after riding the Peyresourde and then stood on the Pla d'Adet".
In his own words, Philippe Gilbert "had a lucky escape" following his crash at the Tour de France on Tuesday.
"It's pure happiness after a day of suffering", said Alaphilippe, who tightened his grip on the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification. We recon all these stages but you never know what's coming up.
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