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Tour de France: Chris Froome crashes after police mistake him for fan

Tour de France: Chris Froome crashes after police mistake him for fan

Geraint Thomas moved to within touching distance of winning the Tour de France after sprinting to a second-place finish on the final mountain stage.

Organisers had set up a grid start at the foot of the first climb but, while it often brings excitement in Formula One, it was a forgettable moment here, with the peloton being well-organised after a few hundred metres.

Like Froome, Thomas said he did not believe his incident was specifically related to Team Sky, who have faced ill-feeling from elements of the crowd throughout the Tour.

Demare finished Wednesday's stage second to last but managed to avoid the time cut as thousands of French spectators cheered him on.

Greipel, who also quit in Stage 12, later apologised on Twitter, saying he had relied on "incorrect" information.

"It's very nice to win today, what can I say". It's regrettable that people doubt my performances. It's not in my mindset or my philosophy to [cheat].

"Going downhill, I opened a little gap and I knew it would be hard for anyone to close it, so I pushed harder and harder".

Nibali broke the 10th vertebrae in a crash on the famous climb up to Alpe d'Huez last week when a fan caught their camera strap on his handlebars.

Alexander Kristoff of Norway crossed third in the same time.

Among them was polka dot jersey wearer Julian Alaphilippe, Adam Yates and Damien Gaudin, who won the day's intermediate sprint, but contained none of Thomas's general classification rivals.

Thomas held an overnight lead of 1min 39sec on compatriot Froome, but took it to 2:31 after the four-time champion crossed the finish 1:36 behind Quintana and almost a minute off Thomas.

Primoz Roglic celebrates after winning stage 19
Primoz Roglic celebrates after winning stage 19

Two big stages stand between him and glory before Sunday's procession into Paris - Friday's monster day in the Pyrenees and Saturday's time trial to Espelette.

The 200-km stage featured six categorized climbs, culminating in a final 20-km decent to Laruns.

"We're expecting the worst, hoping for the best".

"I think guys will try to take any opportunity they can".

"It's interesting, but we've been riding really well all race, and hopefully we can keep that going for one more day". "We gambled and we lost, but we gave it a good crack anyway".

"But obviously having Froomey at my disposal, so to speak, is just phenomenal".

Froome has been a repeated target of fans in this Tour after he was cleared of doping five days before the race began. I just felt my handlebars go as I was passing. "Obviously that insulted me. It's not nice. It's not what you want". 'For me, so far it has not been possible to gain time on him'. It's just a two-kilometre climb, easy and I was already nearly dropped. "There is nothing I can do to prove it but it will stand the test of time". "It should be enough but we will see".

Stage 19 is the final day in the high mountains.

The duo, desperate to deliver a result for the Australian team that's endured its share of misfortune, helped the group to a maximum two and a half minute advantage.

Brailsford praised his two leaders for their temperament and resilience, despite all the furore around Team Sky.

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