Sky's Thomas poised for victory as record-chasing Froome breaks

Slovenian Primoz Roglic won the 19th stage of the Tour de France, while Geraint Thomas retained the overall leader's yellow jersey by finishing second and Ireland's Dan Martin was fourth. The six-pack of mountains on the course make this truly the queen stage of the 2018 edition. With that in mind, Thomas even pushed for a four-second time bonus allocated to the rider taking third place in the stage.

The Welshman stayed on his bike to increase his overall lead on Dutch rival Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) to 1 minutes, 59 seconds, with four-time champion Chris Froome, his teammate, in third at 2:31.

The gendarme grabbed the 33-year-old Team Sky rider by the arm after reportedly mistaking him for a fan. Today, we really showed that.

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. "We've just got to look after him now", he added, seemingly conceding defeat.

"Hopefully we won't have to use Froomey and we will have strength in numbers and he'll be able to follow as well", he said after Thursday's stage.

"I think he's got nearly a two-minute lead on Dumoulin, which I think is a pretty comfortable lot", Froome told reporters after finishing 1:35 behind stage 17 victor Nairo Quintana and 48 seconds behind Thomas.

Sticking his tongue out in apparent exhaustion, it was a strong signal that Froome has reached his limit after winning the last three Grand Tours - the Tour and Spanish Vuelta previous year and the Giro d'Italia in May.

"He also came off", Froome said.

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Froome has been a repeated target of fans in this Tour after he was cleared of doping five days before the race began.

But the penultimate stage features a spiteful profile, including an energy-sapping final climb up the 22 percent gradient Col de Pinodieta, which could be the undoing of many hopefuls within sight of the Champs-Elysees.

"I did not see him crash", Sagan's teammate Daniel Oss said after the race. "But I still felt strong and had the energy to finish the race on a high". "But I am not going to change my approach".

The world champion sealed a record-equalling sixth green jersey on Tuesday, but he was literally brought back down to earth during a brutal 65-kilometre ride from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan.

Measuring 16 km at an average gradient of almost nine percent, organizers rated the Col du Portet as the second-hardest climb in Tour history after Mont Ventoux. "I think he's doing just fine".

The top riders had their numbers pasted on the road to indicate their grid positions. "After I flew through the forest and I hit a big rock with my a**".

Sticking his tongue out in apparent exhaustion, it was a strong signal Froome had reached his limit after winning the last three grand tours - the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana previous year, and the Giro d'Italia in May. He has some cuts, some scrapes, a torn jersey.

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