Wednesday, 22 August, 2018

Dumoulin furious as motorbike 'paces' rival to Tour stage win

Alaphilippe at the double as Thomas eyes Tour's crucial 17th stage Demare silences Tour de France critics as Thomas stays in yellow
Jennie Wade | 28 July, 2018, 08:26

"Just try to think about what you are doing", Portal said.

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.

Sky's domination of the race in recent years, including this 105th edition in which Thomas impressed by winning back-to-back stages in the Alps, has given fuel to the British outfit's detractors. "He's been a huge helper for the team during the race and he deserves a lot of credit for the role played in our success".

It was a brutal day for the defending champion, who started stage 17 in second place overall, but finished in third, two minutes and 31 seconds behind Thomas.

For Thomas, becoming the first Welsh Tour victor was a likely prospect after the race farewelled the Pyrenees with him extending his overall lead to two minutes and five seconds over Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb). Stage 19 offers a maximum of 57 mountain points if a rider manages to be the first to summit every climb on the course. Photographers, cameramen and race officials all use motorbikes during the race. The last daring escapee brought back was Estonian Tanel Kangert (Astana), passed by Quintana with 8.4km to go on the 16km long climb of the Col de Portet to the finish line.

Unlike grand tour contenders that rely on climbing talents, such as Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), or Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), Dumoulin's strength lies in the time trials. Froome was able to cover Roglič's first move, but the effort took its toll.

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

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Froome, notably, is expected to come under attack by Primoz Roglic as the Slovenian, in fourth 16secs behind him, targets a podium place in Paris.

"We're expecting the worst, hoping for the best". But I take confidence with how I have been riding and best recover.

"I never felt I was going to get dropped, but it was certainly tough", Thomas said.

FOUR-TIME champion Chris Froome cracked on the feared 17th stage of the Tour de France through the Pyrenees yesterday, increasing Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas's hold on the yellow jersey.

"I think (he was) a bit of an idiot". They had a 16-second lead over another group of 16 riders including Bauke Mollema, Alejandro Valverde and Adam Yates, and the two group quickly built an advantage over for the peloton. He will now be scrapping for a podium place in Saturday's (Sunday NZT) penultimate stage - a 31km time trial from Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle to Espelette - rather than the fifth win he wanted as the race nears its end on the Champs Elysees in Paris on Sunday (Monday NZT).

Dumoulin, a time trial specialist and strong climber racing for Sunweb, was always likely to emerge as Sky's closest challenger.

Froome has been jostled and spat at by fans on the Tour so far, and admitted he did not immediately realise what was going on when the officer grabbed him.

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