Moment of truth for Thomas as brutal stage awaits

Posted July 28, 2018

Gilbert, a 36-year-old Belgian, fell on the same pass where Fabio Casartelli crashed during the 1995 Tour de France. His first was a legal struggle behind the scenes, defending himself against allegations of doping.

Dutch rival Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro d'Italia champion, finished behind Thomas but well ahead of Froome to move up to second place. Froome prevailed in both.

The sight of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas wiping away tears on the side of the road was, presumably, exactly what a certain section of the race-going public have been wanting since the start of this race in the Vendee over two weeks ago.

Dumoulin's acceleration then buried Froome, who even had trouble holding his team mate Egan Bernal's wheel. Either way, he rode the.

He took third place behind Colombian Quintana and Ireland's Dan Martin, but gained time over Froome, Dumoulin and fourth-placed Primoz Roglic.

Yates accelerated solo on the climb but, with the QuickStep Floors rider in hot pursuit, the Brit attacked the descent hard and paid for his risk-taking when he crashed - allowing the Frenchman to sweep past. "This isn't how I wanted to finish my Tour and leaving it like this really hurts".

Martin pushes himself up the Col de Portet
Martin pushes himself up the Col de Portet

After all the talk about the grid start to the stage on Wednesday, the F1-style départ was a damp squib but the curtailed length of the stage, and the back-to-back nature of the three steep climbs, ensured the pace was hot from the very beginning.

With just one mountainous day and a short time trial left in the four stages before the race finishes in Paris on Sunday, the Welsh rider is strong favourite to win. A check-up in hospital revealed he'd actually broken his kneecap in the crash and would not be able to play any further part in this year's Tour.

"Froomey said on the radio (at) maybe 5k or 4k to go that he wasn't feeling super", Thomas said.

"My intention was never to criticise, just to draw some attention to the fact that I was getting pretty anxious about our guys", Brailsford added.

But the Dutchman did his best not to give up hope of catching Thomas. "That last climb is possibly the toughest climb in the Tour - 16 kilometers, 2,200 meters (altitude)".

"I don't [feel exhausted from the Giro], I'm still riding strong, so I'm happy with my Tour so far".

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