Dumoulin 'hopes' but sees Tour win impossible

Froome is behind Thomas in more ways than one

Chris Froome has been pulled off his bike by police after a hard 17th stage of the Tour de France which saw him fall further behind teammate Geraint Thomas in the race for the yellow jersey.

Tuesday's stage takes the race into the Pyrenees for the first time as the final week begins, with Thomas looking to hold on to a lead of one minute and 39 seconds over team-mate Froome, with Team Sunweb's Tom Dumoulin a further 11 seconds back.

Julian Alaphilippe secured his second stage victory of the Tour de France on a day where the race was briefly interrupted by a farmers' protest and pepper spray. "This isn't how I wanted to finish my Tour and leaving it like this really hurts".

The Tour feed also posted a tweet warning spectators to "respect the riders", as endangering them can lead to up to three years in prison.

While mountain stages in the Tour are traditionally more than 150 kilometers (100 miles) or longer - sometimes beyond 200 kilometers - this Tour features two legs that are relative sprints by comparison.

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"Nairo came with me and went past me".

He was cleared of doping five days before the Tour.

Colombia's Nairo Quintana, left, and Poland's Rafal Majka climb Col du Portet pass during 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.

With Thomas increasing his overall lead, the Colombian Egan Bernal finally showing the climbing aptitude that made his selection inevitable and Froome faltering, Team Sky's principal acknowledged that possibility.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme called on spectators to behave themselves, given the already risky nature of the event - evidenced by Philippe Gilbert's crash when leading on Tuesday that ultimately led to the Quick-Step Floors man withdrawing from the race.

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Quintana said: "I'm happy for the win". Yet when he arrived back at his team bus and responded to questions in French, he seemed dazed by the stage, a demeanour that was perhaps partly attributable to his collision with a policeman as he rode down from the finish.

The incident resulted in a fifteen minute pause, but riders soon continued the remaining 192km of the stage.

This Tour has been marred by incidents as race organizers struggle to deal with angry fans protesting against Froome's participation.

"It's pure happiness after a day of suffering", said Alaphilippe, who tightened his grip on the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification. "That gave me confidence because I knew if Froomey suffered, everyone suffered".

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