Froome support 'phenomenal' for Thomas as Tour title nears

Geraint Thomas podium celebration during the 105th Tour de France 2018 Stage 19 a 200,5km stage from Lourdes to Laruns

Geraint Thomas podium celebration during the 105th Tour de France 2018 Stage 19 a 200,5km stage from Lourdes to Laruns

The top 10 standings remained the same.

"We could lose the Tour de France on the stage to the Col d'Aubisque", Portal said.

Roglic took victory on stage 19 to Laruns by 19 seconds, enough to propel the Slovenian above Froome into third place overall going into Saturday's decisive time trial.

While Dumoulin is the time trial world champion, Thomas is quite capable in the discipline and acknowledged he should be able to protect his advantage.

Peter Sagan has said he will continue in the Tour de France despite his heavy crash on a descent during stage 17. It is dramatic and exciting, but even in a mere 31km against the clock their time trialling capabilities are so limited, that Thomas, Dumoulin, Roglic and Froome will always have the upper hand.

Whatever path Stage 19 ultimately takes, though, the victor will be the cyclist that best manages the descent of the Aubisque into Laruns.

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However, every attacker was reeled in by the diminishing group of overall contenders as the race went over the Montée de Peyragudes and Col de Val Louron-Azet.

Spekenbrink pointed out that Dumoulin and Sunweb have already been learning and improving in the last few years. "It'll be good to just keep doing what we've been doing".

Froome's demise then prompted Dumoulin to launch an attack.

Thomas was troubled today - briefly isolated too on the Col d'Aubisque - but he managed to win a sprint for second place on the stage in Laruns, earning six bonus seconds as he chalked off one more day in his flawless race.

The day's strategy was simple, Spekenbrink explained. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), Mikel Landa (Movistar), Rafal Majka (BORA-hansgrohe) and Bardet attacked halfway up the ascent while Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), in the polka dots jersey, claimed the Souvenir Jacques-Goddet for being the first to the summit.

Demare benefited from the mountains depleting the sprint field the last two weeks.

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"I think you have to put yourself out there in the breakaway and it's really up to the bunch whether you stay away", Durbridge said. We were happy we had the legs.

"It's also great for the morale of the team".

This race has been the Tour of the rouleur-climber - riders with all-round abilities - capable of riding strongly and at high rhythmic speeds in the mountains, holding their own in the crosswinds and on the cobbles, and of winning time trials. It wasn't cracking under pressure on the final day of climbing like he did in the 2016 Vuelta. Stage 17 Bagnères-de-Luchon to Col de Portet, 65 km, Road race.

The time lost was a blow, but Spekenbrink wouldn't agonize over that fateful stage.

"It would be very easy to just go home, but two or three days before Paris, no", Sagan said. "He's been a huge helper for the team during the race and he deserves a lot of credit for the role played in our success".

Roglic, who also excels at time trials, showed courage on a twisty descent made more hard by clouds and fog hanging over the Aubisque.

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It seems that Spekenbrink does not like speculation.

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