Nibali to have surgery, Demare silences critics in Tour stage win

Lynette Rowe
July 27, 2018

Making Friday's stage more intriguing is the fact that Froome, who had been aiming for his fourth consecutive Grand Tour win, is now fighting for a podium place.

Up amid the thin and misty air of the Col du Portet - rated the second toughest climb in Tour history - Froome cracked on the feared 17th stage through the Pyrenees on Wednesday, solidifying Sky teammate Geraint Thomas's hold on the yellow jersey.

"I'm delighted", said Alaphilippe.

Arnaud Demare has won stage 18 after a bunch sprint finish in Pau, holding off Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) to earn his first stage victory of this year's Tour.

Thomas opened up a 1min 59sec to Dutch rival Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), with four-time champion Froome at 2:31.

"It was a very hard day for me and I suffered a lot not just because of the injuries I have from my crash but also from the heat".

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

The gendarme grabbed the 33-year-old Team Sky rider by the arm after reportedly mistaking him for a fan.

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"I didn't want to risk anything, which was why I left it as late as possible", said Thomas, when asked about his strategy. They include the iconic Col d'Aspin (12km at 7.3 per cent gradient), Col du Tourmalet (17.1km at 7.3 per cent) and Col d'Aubisque (16.6km at 4.9 per cent), the last of which is followed by a 20km descent to the finish. 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. "I think it was just too much to drink, a bit of an idiot".

Team Sky has employed a personal bodyguard for Froome and additional security, while the Tour has employed extra security in the wake of recent terror attacks in France. It's been frustrating, and sad because things didn't work out the way we'd hoped.

"So we'll just see how the standings are after tomorrow and I will just go full gas and not be (thinking of) any time differences".

Dumoulin knows he needs a miracle of sorts to take the yellow jersey.

"I didn't really have the legs in the final kilometre".

Colombian climber Nairo Quintana won the short but extremely hard mountainous stage with a solo attack up the brutal finishing climb to Col du Portet. In recent head-to-head clashes between the two, Dumoulin has shown himself capable of taking nearly two seconds per kilometre out of Thomas in the discipline, suggesting Thomas needs a cushion of at least a minute to feel secure.

A lot of fans climb up the mountains on their bikes before the riders to find a spot where they can watch the peloton ride by.

"It's interesting, but we've been riding really well all race, and hopefully we can keep that going for one more day".

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