Geraint Thomas strengthens his hand on Col du Portet
Alexander Kristoff value for Stage 18
Eurosport 1/ITV4, 1pm Thursday
Time is running out for Geraint Thomas's rivals to wrestle the yellow jersey from his shoulders after the Welshman stayed strong on the shortest stage in modern Tour history and extended his lead to nearly two minutes.
Thomas finished third on the stage, just ahead of Primoz Roglic and Tom Dumoulin, who moved up to second in the general classification. And the Welshman confirmed his status as Team Sky's new leader as his teammate Chris Froome cracked on the upper slopes of the punishing Col du Portet and fell 2mins 31secs behind Thomas overall.
Thomas is now just 1-6 with Betway to win a first Tour title with Dumoulin 10-1 and Froome a 16-1 chance.
Stage winner Nairo Quintana and Dan Martin were the only riders to gain time on Thomas but that will not be much of a concern to the Sky rider with only one more day in the mountains left to defend his advantage and a time trial on the penultimate stage in which he should have that pair's measure anyway.
The battle in the mountains ceases for one day at least on stage 18 with a sprinters' stage from Trie-sur-Baise to Pau.
Or rather it would be if there were any sprinters left to contest the stage. The bulk of the premier speedsters exited in the Alpine tests in the middle of the second week.
That leaves just Peter Sagan, Arnaud Demare, Alexander Kristoff, John Degenkolb and Sonny Colbrelli as likely protagonists to contest the finish.
Winner of three stages already, green jersey Sagan is head and shoulders above the others on what we have seen so far but he took a crashing fall on the descent of the Col de Val Louron-Azet on Tuesday which could have taken its toll.
That could open the door for Kristoff, who has four top-five placings in this year's Tour, to gain a first stage win since 2014.
1pt e-w 3-1 bet365
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