Thomas closes in on victory after passing final mountain test

27 July, 2018, 23:34 | Author: Malcolm Quinn
  • Chris Froome tells French policeman to 'f*ck off' after being pulled off his bike

If these small start and finish towns are little-known, the arduous 31km course itself will not be forgotten by the riders.

Geraint Thomas was in prime position to win his maiden Tour de France after he retained the overall leader's yellow jersey in a lively 19th stage won by Slovenian Primoz Roglic as defending champion Chris Froome slipped down to fourth on Friday.

Based on past form Geraint Thomas should really have little to fear.

But Dumoulin will feel he needs to take at least a minute off Thomas's advantage heading into the time trial, a discipline in which he is the reigning world champion.

"I can't imagine any fair-minded person, regardless of nationality, can watch that and think it has a place in sport".

Sky sporting director Nicolas Portal, a former rider with the team, appealed to fans to use common sense. Yet it could be very close. The time trial on Saturday will be fine. "Still, you never know".

The Manxman is one of two Brits selected for the African team, alongside fit-again Scott Thwaites.

Froome said the priority now was to make sure that Thomas keeps hold of the yellow jersey.

However, every attacker was reeled in by the diminishing group of overall contenders as the race went over the Montée de Peyragudes and Col de Val Louron-Azet. It was the 70th time the Tour passed through Pau, which first hosted the race in 1930.

This year's total, a mere 31km of racing alone against the clock, is the lowest in the modern Tour's history, after the 2015 Tour which had only 13.8km of the "race of truth".

The final podium placings will be decided by the penultimate-stage time trial, over 31 km, on Saturday.

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.

They only had to control Dumoulin and Lotto Jumbo rider Roglic, who launched a series of attacks in the closing kilometres that put Froome in trouble.

Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors' picks. "Roglic, Dumoulin and "G"- they're all going to be strong, all going to be up there".

Even though the riders zoomed down the mountain at frightening speed, Thomas looked secure.

All four of this quartet are of the new breed of Grand Tour contender, tall, skeletal and powerful. "It was a tough start to the (last) climb, everyone was on the limit but Wout (Poels) and Egan (Bernal) did a tremendous job", he explained.

It was a great day for the Team Sky rider, who extended his lead over his rivals as he powered away in the final few kilometers to claim third place to Saint-Lary-Soulan behind stage victor Nairo Quintana and runner-up Dan Martin.

The reality is that Quintana, Mikel Landa, Bardet et al can huff and puff all they like in the mountains, snatching seconds here and there.



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