Nibali to have surgery, Demare silences critics in Tour stage win

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But the success of Thomas underlines the recent dominance of Team Sky and British cycling with Froome having won four of the last five Tours and Bradley Wiggins having set the ball rolling by becoming Britain's first ever Tour victor in 2012.

Thomas' third place on the stage - that also secured a four second time bonus - left his overall lead at 1m 59s on Dumoulin, who rose from third to second, and 2m 31s on Froome.

Thomas will take a lead of one minute and 51 seconds into Sunday's final stage to Paris, which is traditionally a procession. He showed invention by attacking on the road to La Rosière, he continued to probe Thomas in the Pyrenees, and he won Saturday's time trial in the Basque Country for good measure.

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Pictures emerged after the stage of Froome - wearing a grey jacket over his race jersey - responding angrily after the police officer tried to grab him as he was rolling back from the summit finish on the Col du Portet in the direction of the Team Sky bus. If I'd been closer without the time lost at Mûr-de-Bretagne, he would have taken more time on me in the mountains because he was definitely stronger. "I heard I was up and maybe I was pushing it a bit hard on some of those corners", Thomas said. "I can't believe it", said an emotional Thomas on after Saturday's 31km time trial.

"I did not fight for nothing in the mountains, I was thinking of a possible victory when I was suffering", said Groupama-FDJ rider Demare.

"Not only have I been a teammate of G (Geraint) over the last ten years, but also a friend".

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"It hurt me enormously", Demare said. "It was clear as soon as we hit the Alps that Geraint was in better physical condition than me".

When a man is only 1:51 off winning the Tour de France after three weeks and nearly 3,250 kilometres of racing, it's tempting to dwell on the seconds left here and there along the roadside, but Tom Dumoulin was not much inclined to let his mind drift off in search of lost time on Saturday evening in Espelette.

"He was in the shape of his life", Dumoulin said. The Dutchman has won six TTs overall at the three Grand Tours - the Tour, the Giro d'Italia and the Spanish Vuelta. I only have big respect for him. I gave everything, I worked super hard in the mountains ahead of the Tour de France.

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Nibali broke the 10th vertebrae in a crash on the famous climb up to Alpe d'Huez last week when a fan caught their camera strap on his handlebars. The last time I cried was at my wedding; I don't know what happened then, at least I know what's happening now.

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