Quintana wins "pure climber" Tour de France stage

French farmers bring Tour de France to standstill with protest

French farmers bring Tour de France to standstill with protest

But it was all in vain as Team Sky's new star Thomas found energy in spades, attacking again in the closing metres to claim the bonus four seconds available for finishing third and leave Roglic and Dumoulin in his wake.

Meanwhile, Peter Sagan, the three-time defending world champion and three-time stage victor in this year's race, crashed on the descent from the Col de Val Louron, the second mountain of the day.

Defending champion Chris Froome nearly crashed out of the Tour de France - after being knocked off his bike when an overzealous policeman mistook him for a fan on stage 17 Wednesday.

Froome, who was also hoping to be the first man in 20 years to achieve a Giro d'Italia-Tour double, has very limited options as he will not be allowed to attack the yellow jersey so close to Paris.

"This isn't how I wanted to finish my Tour and leaving it like this really hurts", Gilbert said.

Quintana's victory came despite two early mechanicals on a 65km stage - the shortest road stage in the Tour for over 30 years - that was created to be explosive from the start.

It was Quintana's second career stage victory in the Tour, having also won a leg in 2013.

"I don't know how you prepare", Thomas says.

After a nine-month investigation - during which Froome constantly protested his innocence - cycling's governing body the UCI, on the advice of experts from the World Anti-Doping Agency, dropped the case just before the Tour began earlier in July.

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"I thought I was broken everywhere", said Gilbert, a teammate of Alaphilippe's on the Quick-Step team.

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

"This stage is going to be massively decisive, there are going to be big gaps", said Thomas. "I'm happy just to be in the position I'm in", he said.

The Tour de France 16th stage re-started on Tuesday after a brief halt when national gendarmes used tear gas near the peloton to break up a protest by farmers.

This means Tom Dumoulin moves into second place to split the two Sky riders, Thomas and Froome, on the podium.

It was in the same descent that Italian Fabio Casartelli crashed and died in the 1995 Tour de France.

But on a day that saw Slovakian Peter Sagan mathematically secure his sixth green jersey for the points competition, the day belonged to Alaphilippe.The 26-year-old Frenchman has spent the past days chasing points to add to his collection for the King of the Mountains' polka dot jersey.

Riders who have finished the race often descend down the final climb of a stage, even when the race is still on.

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