Published: Fri, July 20, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

Nibali withdraws from Tour de France with back fracture

Nibali withdraws from Tour de France with back fracture

The Italian rider was able to remount his bike and by the summit only lost 13 seconds to stage victor Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) but was in clear discomfort.

Kruijswijk's lead dropped to three minutes by the time Nibali was brought back, and the attacks continued apace as Quintana - to the delight of a Colombian fan chasing - launched his first attack. As to what might happen next, Dumoulin is limited to speculation, as are we all.

Behind, Froome attacked and managed to distance Dan Martin and tried to bridge to Thomas before the Welshman left for home. "That's good to know for the future", Dumoulin said.

"You expect professional athletes to play sport and entertain without being touched or impacted on by the crowd, " Sky general manager Dave Brailsford said.

Fans lined every corner of the climb to Huez, many of them amateur cyclists who tested their legs on the ascent a few hours before the professionals, while others had camped out for days.

Just as Froome was bridging across to Bardet, however, Nibali crashed heavily - fortunately remounting and working to close the gap. The Bahrain-Merida leader remounted after a fall and came in seventh, retaining his fourth place in the overall standings.

With the Alps receding in the rearview and the Pyrenees still several days away in this year's clockwise route, the only thing that seems less than inevitable about Sky is which tip will wind up on the end of the spear.

Fellow Brit Chris Froome also managed a podium finish in a stage that took the riders 108.5km through the Alps from Albertville to La Rosière, crossing the line third to move up to second overall - almost 90 seconds behind Thomas.

"It's not good to see, because he should have been there challenging for the stage".

Prudhomme said he had to press the local authorities not to open the roads to circulation again in order to allow Cavendish to finish the stage safely. It's the shortest stage in 30 years, a deliberately disruptive move on the part of Tour organizers pushing back against predictability. We will learn which GC contender is best positioned to wear yellow to Paris, and who is most likely to challenge that leader. The field strings out after him.

Thomas accelerated in the last stretch to beat Dutchman Tom Dumoulin and France's Romain Bardet who were second and third, two and three seconds behind respectively.

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