Tour riders sprayed with tear gas amid protest by farmers

Sherman Parsons
July 24, 2018

"I've said it before, but it's the first time I've raced for three weeks, as a GC (general classification) leader so it's a bit of an unknown", said Thomas, after he and Froome trailed home over 18 minutes behind Spanish stage victor Omar Fraile in Mende.

"I was lucky that it did not affect me too much, I had a bit of tingling in the back of the throat but I used some water to wash it out", said Thomas on the finish line in the spa town of Bagneres-de-Luchon, after keeping his overall lead intact.

Team Sky remains the dominant team in cycling and, for Froome, the quintet of victories is still possible. "We get on - for now, anyway".

Eurosport is the home of the Tour de France.

"I don't think spitting has a place in professional sport, or in everyday life, but it seems to be the thing that's done here (in France)".

But his build-up to the Tour was far from ideal as he had to defend himself in an anti-doping investigation.

The Tour de France is the world's biggest and most iconic cycling race.

"We were always in control", Thomas said.

He had previously won stages two and five and has increased his grip on the green points jersey which he has won five times.

So who is the most likely to win from here?

.

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Bernal was running a close second to Alejandro Valverde at the Tour of Catalonia before crashing on the final stage.

"This is the dream scenario for us, the pressure is on our rivals to dislodge us", he said, sitting beside his Welsh teammate.

"We have followed him and have seen what he is capable of", Movistar sports director Jose Luis Arrieta told The AP. Now is the time to deliver.

Amid a general feeling of suspicion surrounding Sky and their sheer domination of the race, Froome has been spat at and manhandled, Thomas has been booed off the podium and some of Sky's staff have also faced abuse. We accept it. We're trying to remain dignified'. But Froome swerved out of the way of such questions yesterday.

Where will the battle for yellow be decided?

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Despite three tough days in the mountains up ahead, only one of them - stage 17 - ends on a mountaintop.

Now all eyes turn to Wednesday's 65km stage from Bagnères-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Luchon, with Thomas knowing that it could make or break his chances of winning his first Tour de France.

Wednesday's stage to the summit of the Col du Portet is the wildcard, just 65km long and starting with an experimental grid created to promote explosive racing.

Thomas's biggest test is likely to come on Friday, a 200km stage from Lourdes to Laruns that asks the riders to climb the legendary Col du Tourmalet and Col d'Aubisque. The final margins will be determined in Saturday's time trial, but the rolling 31km course is an intriguing one given it may temper the advantages of the pure time trialists.

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