Tour director calls for calm after fan abuse of Froome

Annette Crawford
July 22, 2018

The general classification contenders led by Team Sky finished the transition stage more than 18 minutes behind victor Omar Fraile (Astana) but the last climb in Mende allowed for humble comparison.

A medley of attacks between the race favourites saw the likes of Romain Bardet (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) lose time as the yellow jersey Thomas finished alongside Sky team-mate Froome and their Dutch rival Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) more than 18 minutes down on the victor. Dutchman Dumoulin is behind the British duo in third, at 1:50.

To muddy the waters further, Froome has not - yet - ridden like a man destined to win the Tour, looking panicked when left without teammates on stage one, and producing ineffectual attacks in the Alps rather than his usual searing accelerations.

He had a look at just how Team Sky could implode today on the climb to Mende's airstrip. The trio lost a handful of seconds to Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), but also put time into the likes of Movistar pair Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana, and AG2R La Mondiale's Romain Bardet.

"When I attacked I was not sure I would be able to keep my advantage".

The 169.5-kilometre leg starting from Bourg d'Oisans at the foot of the Alpe d'Huez delayed the resolution to the burning question of this race: Is Thomas really Sky's top option while Froome seeks a fifth Tour title? He returned this May, but could not handle Froome and finished second to the grand tour star.

"We tried to attack each other a bit but we were all equally strong", Dumoulin said post-race.

"I think we were evenly matched", he said.

"Tomorrow we can see some good battles between the favourites, " Froome said.

The race ends with a run through the of three Pyrenean stages in the country's southwest and a time trial on the penultimate day.

Sagan's 11th career win at the world's biggest bike race came after he was the fastest to the line in bunch sprints on Stages 2 and 5.

Thomas and Froome each promised to help each other, but personal self-interests may bring out the worst case scenario for Team Sky.

Froome, who won the Tour in 2013 and 2015-2017, was only cleared to participate in this edition days before the start by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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