Alaphilippe wins protest-hit stage

France Cycling Tour de France

Colombia's Nairo Quintana, left, and Britain's Chris Froome talk prior to the start of the seventeenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 65 kilometers (40.4 miles) with start in Bagneres-de-Luchon and finish in Saint-Lary-Soulan, Col du Portet pass, France, Wednesday July 25, 2018.

Geraint Thomas was among the Tour de France riders whose stage 16 was disrupted by protesters on Tuesday and the Team Sky man hopes the remainder of the race will pass without incident.

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

Thomas now leads by one minute and 59 seconds from Team Sunweb's Tom Dumoulin, with Froome falling to third, two minutes and 31 seconds down after conceding another 48 seconds.

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.

With Sky dominating the Tour in recent years and easily chasing down any attacks from far out, the shorter stages should lessen the British team's ability to maintain control. We don't feel unsafe, it's just unfortunate sometimes but I think everyone is doing the best they can.

"I knew the last kilometers of the stage".

"It was a tough day, an intense day, but I've got no regrets", Froome said.

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"The Tour is promoted as the world's greatest annual worldwide sporting event and if that's what you want to host and if you want the best riders in the world to come to your country to take part, then maybe treat them with a little more respect", he said.

"The last two or three days I have felt pretty good", he said.

"I thought I was broken everywhere", said Gilbert, a teammate of Alaphilippe's on the Quick-Step team.

Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe took advantage of his downhill skills to win the first of three mountainous legs in the Pyrenees, which was briefly interrupted when police used tear gas to disperse a farmers' protest that had blocked the road with bales of hay.

"It's pure happiness after a day of suffering", said Alaphilippe, who tightened his grip on the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification.

The first test, surprisingly, on this stage 16 came after just 30 kilometres of racing.

Froome - who was apparently mistaken for a fan in his rain jacket while riding back to his team bus from the summit - did not let on to reporters what had happened.

The Bora-Hansgrohe rider described the incident in typically colourful fashion before confirming his intention to race on, needing only to make it to Paris now to confirm a sixth career green jersey.

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