Froome crashes post-stage after police mistake him for fan

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Tour de France leader Geraint Thomas hopes there are no repeats of the protests that marred the early part of Tuesday's 16th stage. His first was a legal struggle behind the scenes, defending himself against allegations of doping.

It was a gift, but Alaphilippe didn't care as he cruised to his second stage win of this year's Tour. Froome prevailed in both.

After the Formula 1-style grid start in Bagneres-de-Luchon, which saw overall leader Thomas line up directly ahead of Froome and Dumoulin, it was Estonian rider Tanel Kangert who led the breakaway.

Team Sky told media there was a misunderstanding after the stage as Froome rode back down a hill to his bus.

The Netherlands' Tom Dumoulin remains third at 1:50, while Slovenia's Primož Roglič is fourth at 2:38.

"Thomas has been the strongest, and that's the situation now", Dumoulin said.

The race was just four stages short of coming to Paris, where the race ends of the Champs Elysees when the Quick-Step Floors rider had to call it a day because of the horrid crash.

A short 65km stage from Bagneres-du-Luchon to the summit of the Col du Portet was created to be explosive from the start, but despite the best efforts of an innovative F1-style grid start, it did not come to life until the final climb.

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Britain's Adam Yates launched an attack and crested the climb solo but crashed on the tricky descent with seven kilometres to go.

"I went through some hard moments in the first part of this Tour and lost some time", said Quintana, who is fifth overall. "Now, I just have to be happy with the fact that Froome cracked".

But as the Giro d'Italia in May showed, a faltering Froome may also be like a badger, at his most threatening when cornered.

"The last few days I felt really good, which is a good sign", said Martin.

Thomas finally acknowledged on Wednesday night that he was in "a good position" before adding: "But I am not going to change my approach".

"It's the first time I've ridden for GC (general classification)".

Not only did the champion Brit see his bid for a fifth Tour title all but go up in smoke after losing time on Stage 17, he was then crash-tackled by a policeman mistaking him for a fan.

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