Arnaud Demare, last place in the Pyrenees, wins Tour de France stage

Arnaud Demare, last place in the Pyrenees, wins Tour de France stage

After many of his competitors were unable to get through the mountains, Demare took advantage by dominating a mass sprint in Stage 18.

Fernando Gaviria of Colombia and Dylan Groenewegen - who had each won two stages in this year's race - called it quits during Stage 12 to Alpe d'Huez.

Greipel, one of several sprinters to pull out in the Alps, while others, like Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel, missed the time cut, accused Demare of holding on to a vehicle to make it through the mountains on stage 17.

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

"I was thinking about Greipel", he said. "It's a shame that people cast doubts over my performance and my hard work. I hope in Paris I can win". (Cheating) is not my philosophy.

"I want to thank you for this", Demare said.

Yates was on his own and in the lead when he crashed on the descent of the Col du Portillon, the fifth and last climb of the day, his front wheel skidding away from under him as he negotiated a left-hand bend.

The Frenchman beat compatriot Christophe Laporte and Norway's Alexander Kristoff, who were second and third respectively as Briton Geraint Thomas retained the overall leader's yellow jersey after 171km from Trie sur Baize.

The Welshman holds a one minute, 59 seconds lead on Dutch rival Tom Dumoulin Sunweb with four-time champion and teammate Chris Froome in third at 2:31 heading into Friday's 19th stage.

Team boss Dave Brailsford said they will now plan to make sure Froome joins Thomas on the Tour de France podium: "He's not out of it necessariy, there's a big mountain day to come, and the time trial".

The 200-km stage featured six categorized climbs, culminating in a final 20-km decent to Laruns. "It's like we are nearly used to it, and that's bad". "It's the last mountain stage, and I think guys will try to take every opportunity they can", Thomas said.

"It'll be a big test".

In many ways Team Sky's high tempo style of catenaccio climbing suits riders like Thomas, Dumoulin and Roglic with their highly refined power-to-weight ratios, while it dissuades the more explosive climbers, such as Nairo Quintana and Romain Bardet.

"Hopefully we won't have to use Froomey".

"Primoz couldn't help it, he just sat on his tube and kept going, but the motorcycle should have been behind us".

"Having Froomey at my disposal, so to speak, is just, like, phenomenal", said Thomas. The police are duty bound to keep the roads clear for the riders and the officer who brought Froome down thought he was a fan.

One fan who reached over the barriers almost took Thomas down Wednesday.

"Obviously he thought I was a spectator going down the race route or something so he grabbed me". "But when I got back to the hotel and was showed the pictures it was obviously something else".

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