Tour de France 2018 - Julian Alaphilippe wins Stage 16 amid Tour protests

Tom Dumoulin rode well in stage 17 but it wasn't enough to gain time on Geraint Thomas

Team Sky leader Froome, a four-time champion, finished the stage in eighth place at 1min 35sec behind Colombian victor Nairo Quintana and 48secs behind teammate and overall leader Geraint Thomas.

The overall standings were unchanged with Geraint Thomas in the yellow jersey, second-placed Chris Froome and third-placed Tom Dumoulin each crossing 8 minutes, 52 seconds behind.

Froome, who remained in second place overall, 1 minute, 39 seconds behind Sky teammate Thomas, said the effects of the gas did not last long.

Chris Froome has crashed following the brutally hard 17th stage of the Tour de France after police mistook him for a fan on the way down the mountain.

This year's Tour de France has been marked by a series of incidents on the sidelines of the race including abuse directed at Froome.

The last time a Tour stage was blocked by a demonstration was in 2004.

Starting the 17th stage with a deficit of 1min 39sec to Thomas, the Kenyan-born Briton showed rare glimpses of weakness on his way to finishing almost a minute behind his Welsh teammate at the final mountaintop finish of the race at Saint-Lary-Soulan won by Colombian rival Nairo Quintana of Movistar.

"I'm delighted", said Alaphilippe.

"The Tour is promoted as the world's greatest annual worldwide sporting event and if that's what you want to host and if you want the best riders in the world to come to your country to take part, then maybe treat them with a little more respect", he said.

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Froome, 32, had been hoping to join an elite club of five-time winners and become the first cyclist since Marco Pantani, in 1998, to win the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in the same calendar year.

On Wednesday Brailsford reiterated his concerns over security, a day when Geraint Thomas extended his lead in the Tour. The riders started on a motorsport-style grid as the organisers hoped to disrupt the organisation of the leading teams.

"He was the better guy on the day and I am pretty proud of how the I rode and how the team rode".

"I waited a bit for my own attack, but I didn't have the legs to drop Thomas and Roglic, I was happy I could stay with Roglic; Thomas was just the strongest".

However, Quick-Step later announced that Gilbert, a former world champion, was withdrawing from the Tour with a fracture on his left kneecap.

But the day belonged to Alaphilippe, who has spent the past 10 days chasing points to add to his collection for the King of the Mountains' polka dot jersey.

Welshman Thomas will start Thursday's 18th stage, a mainly flat 171 km ride from Trie-sur-Blaise to Pau with a 1:59 lead on Sunweb team leader Dumoulin, with Froome in third.

The race continued after the brief hiatus.

The latest roadside drama erupted only 30km into Stage 16 when the protesters dragged hay bales onto the road, narrowing the space for the oncoming peloton.

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