The Welsh heart was willing, the dragon-flag-waving crowds were willing Geraint Thomas on up the steep final ascent of Belmont, eight kilometres from the finish here, but four weeks of partying since the local hero won the Tour de France had taken their toll. Thomas was perfectly set up by his teammates and put in a searing attack, but when the Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe came flying past, Thomas looked like a man who realised suddenly and painfully that he had bitten off more than he could chew. “I had to give it a go, being on home roads and so close to where I grew up. I knew the climb but once I went I was thinking: ‘What have I done?’” Thomas said. “When Alaphilippe went over the top I thought there was no way I could go with that, so I got back in the wheels. It was nice to have a dig but I don’t have the legs to finish it off.”
Team Sky’s collective effort was enough to briefly sow chaos in a peloton that had looked to be heading inexorably for a bunch finish, but the riders they impelled off the front were from Quickstep Floors, hot favourites for this race along with Thomas’s squad. Alaphilippe and Bob Jungels escaped with the Frenchman Jonathan Hivert and the Dane Mads Würtz Schmidt and Thomas was forced back into a team role to ensure that Sky’s nominal leader, Wout Poels, did not lose ground. After the finish, Thomas was whisked away for yet another round of glad-handing, this time to celebrate the renaming of the national velodrome – which stands out from the centre towards the Llanwern steel works – in his honour. “It’s strange,” he said. “You dream of winning bike races and getting across the line first, not the aftermath and everything that goes with it, having velodromes named after you, going pitch side at the Emirates, Arsenal jerseys with Thomas on the back. It’s really nice.” Jungels sped clear of Alaphilippe and company, but was retrieved in the final kilometre where the second part of the Quickstep pincer movement came into play: the sprinter Fernando Gaviria gained a couple of lengths lead in the last 200m, only to be overhauled by the Australian Caleb Ewan and the German André Greipel, with the latter veering right to take his sixth Tour of Britain stage win and with it the leader’s jersey. Students of sprint politics could savour the moment.
Greipel, a loyal servant to Lotto-Soudal since 2012, had been abruptly dumped over the summer as they opted for a newer, shinier sprinter in Ewan. Afterwards, he made tactful noises about his happy history with the Belgians, but he must have been laughing inwardly. Thomas had led the field out of the start among the sand dunes and pines of the Pembrey Country Park on the coast south of Carmarthen – and around part of a new custom built racing circuit for future Thomaslets – en route for 108 miles that turned into a second triumphant homecoming after his official return to Cardiff following his Tour de France win in July. Tiny villages such as Kidwelly and sedate market towns such as Llandovery were a sea of Welsh dragon flags and it was all of three miles into the race before the first fan in full Welsh national dress, stovepipe hat and all, could be spotted on the roadside. Life-size leeks and daffodils were in evidence as well, along with tots in jerseys celebrating Wales’s other hero of the summer, Gareth Bale. On Monday, the race takes on a different tenor, with a raft of hills in the heart of Devon – one sprint is at the appropriately named village of Nomansland – before a brutal loop out and home from the finish town of Barnstaple, up on to Exmoor through Bratton Fleming for a rollercoaster ride along the North Devon coast. The combine harvesters may be largely back in their barns now with the wheat fields empty, but the chaff should be sorted out well before the final sprint alongside the river Taw.
4 cyclists — two People, a Swiss and a Dutch citizen — have been killed in an apparent hit-and-run followed by a knife assault in Tajikistan, with police saying terrorism is among the many potential motives. Three extra cyclists — from Switzerland, the Netherlands and France — have been injured within the incident involving a Daewoo Leganza. One among them reportedly has a stab wound. “We’re trying into all variations — accident, theft . . . together with a terrorist act,” Ramazon Rakhimzoda, the interior minister, told a briefing. “The driving force and passengers of a car that hit the international tourists got out of the car and attacked [the cyclists] with a firearm and a knife,” he added, in keeping with Radio Free Europe’s Tajik Service. Regional docs…
Omar Fraile received his first Tour de France stage with an outstanding late assault to overtake Jasper StuyvenSpaniard Omar Fraile received stage 14 of the Tour de France in a dramatic end as Staff Sky’s Geraint Thomas retained the chief’s yellow jersey. Jasper Stuyven attacked alone with 35km to go however was caught and handed by Fraile contained in the final 3km on the brutal last climb in Mende. Fraile took the summit solo and stayed away from Julian Alaphilippe’s late counter-attack, with Stuyven third. Thomas completed alongside nearest rivals Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin. That trio once more regarded the strongest riders within the race, with Dumoulin briefly gapped however chasing again and launching an assault, which Froome countered, with Thomas capable of comply with. Though that skirmish led to a stalemate – Thomas holding his lead of 1 minute 39 seconds over Froome, with Dumoulin 11 seconds additional adrift – the highest three have been capable of put extra time into most of their rivals. Nonetheless, Primoz Roglic was capable of make a late assault stick and gained eight seconds to maneuver 2:38 behind Thomas in fourth. Thomas was once more booed when crossing the road, whereas Froome had a transparent liquid thrown in his face on the ultimate climb. It’s not clear why the riders have been focused right here, though Staff Sky have detractors, each stemming from their current dominance within the sport, and due to a current anti-doping investigation into Froome, which was dropped in early July. “I would moderately be on the rostrum getting booed than on the bus and all people cheering me,” Thomas instructed BBC Radio 5 dwell. The Welshman added that Dumoulin and Roglic are “the most important threats” to himself and Froome however will not be ruling out anybody, with three mountain phases within the Pyrenees and a person time trial nonetheless to return. “Who is aware of how individuals are – together with myself? That is the primary time I’ve actually gone for GC [the general classification victory] over three weeks,” he stated. Eire’s Dan Martin sustained a puncture simply earlier than the ultimate climb and dropped one place within the normal classification to 10th. Prime three assert their power The stage cut up into two races, with a 32-man breakaway, containing no menace to the general leaders, allowed to construct up a bonus of about 20 minutes over the peloton on the undulating terrain of the Massif Central. Staff Sky managed proceedings behind, guaranteeing no person may launch a long-distance assault and must depart any onslaughts to the slopes of Cote de la Croix Neuve. However with a median gradient of 10.2% over 3.3km, that last climb had already proved powerful sufficient to supply important time losses, as Stuyven discovered. The principle favourites duly gathered within the entrance group because the peloton splintered and have been slowly whittled down earlier than Roglic kicked away. Thomas and Froome appeared content material to let the Slovenian go, however needed to rapidly latch on to the wheel of Dumoulin when the Dutchman rode again as much as the British pair and instantly attacked, having briefly been in hassle. 4-time winner Froome, who additionally fell behind fleetingly earlier within the climb, then made his personal present of power however Thomas was once more capable of match his team-mate, whereas they have been unable to drop the unshakeable Dumoulin collectively. These accelerations have been sufficient to distance Romain Bardet although, with the Frenchman dropping 14 extra seconds to Thomas, whereas Movistar pair Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa misplaced 10 and 29 seconds respectively. Fraile fries Stuyven Trek-Segafredo’s Stuyven initially shaped a three-man teams of escapees from the breakaway however left Gorka Izagirre and Tom-Jelte Slagter behind on the lengthy descent in direction of Mende. The Belgian admirably stored a chasing pack of 19 riders at bay, carrying a lead of 1:40 into the ultimate climb, however couldn’t fairly drag himself to the summit in time. His compatriot Thomas de Gendt was the primary to attempt to bridge throughout however it was Fraile who timed his assault exquisitely, reeling in and kicking previous De Gendt earlier than doing the identical to Stuyven. France’s Alaphilippe, who received stage 10, put in a robust dig to chase down Fraile however left his assault too late, with the Spaniard capable of cruise via the flat run-in to the road unopposed. World champion Peter Sagan put in one other very good trip after profitable Friday’s stage 13 in a dash. The versatile Slovak held on with supposedly superior climbers earlier than kicking away to complete fourth and lengthen his dominant lead within the inexperienced jersey factors classification. Extra Massif mountains on stage 15 Sunday’s stage 15 stays within the Massif Central, with a 181.5km route from Millau to Carcassonne that options three categorised climbs. In his stage-by-stage information for BBC Sport, Mark Cavendish stated: “There are different methods we may have gotten to Carcassonne with out going over the class one Pic de Nore close to the end, which can break issues up for the run-in. “The sprinters will not be trying to do something however there are guys like Sagan who can recover from it and are available to the end.” Stage 14 outcome 1. Omar Fraile (Spa/Astana) 4hrs 41minutes 57secs 2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Fast-Step Flooring) +6secs 3. Jasper Stuyven (Bel/Trek-Segafredo) identical time 4. Peter Sagan (Svk/Bora-Hansgrohe) +12secs 5. Damiano Caruso (Ita/BMC Racing) +17secs 6. Simon Geschke (Ger/Sunweb) +19secs 7. Nicolas Edet (Fra/Cofidis) identical time 8. Lilian Calmejane (Fra/Direct Energie) +23secs 9. Daryl Impey (SA/Mitchelton-Scott) +30secs 10. Thomas de Gendt (Bel/Lotto-Soudal) +37secs Basic classification after stage 14 1. Geraint Thomas (GB/Staff Sky) 58hrs 10minutes 44secs 2. Chris Froome (GB/Staff Sky) +1min 39secs 3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Sunweb) +1min 50secs 4. Primoz Roglic (Slo/LottoNL-Jumbo) +2mins 38secs 5. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale) +3mins 21secs 6. Mikel Landa (Spa/Movistar) +3mins 42secs 7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) +3mins 57secs 8. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +4mins 23secs 9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana) +6mins 14secs 10. Dan Martin (Ire/UAE Staff Emirates) +6mins 54secs
Thomas, proper, says he would sacrifice the yellow jersey for Froome however it will be a controversial spectacleBenoit Tessier/Reuters Maybe not even Geraint Thomas himself would have believed he could be carrying the yellow jersey on the Tour de France with eight phases remaining. The questions now are whether or not he can go on and win general — and whether or not he might be allowed to strive. These are the important thing components that may dictate the reply: Thomas’s dangerous daySince he began on his Tour de France successful streak in 2013, Chris Froome has proven weak spot however, aside from his race-ending crash in 2014, he has by no means fallen out of competition for the general title. Against this, Thomas has by no means but accomplished a Tour de France with out struggling a nasty day, most notably in 2015 when he cracked on the climb of La Toussuire, shedding… Wish to learn extra? Register with a number of particulars to proceed studying this text