Froome to support Thomas as his own Tour hopes fade

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The performance of Geraint Thomas in this year's Tour de France may signal the end of the Chris Froome era as we know it.

Recent results suggest the world time trial champion, Tom Dumoulin, who won the 2017 Giro d'Italia by overturning his deficit in the time trial, will be the favourite for the stage, on a course that looks ideally suited to him. But in the back of their minds, they are still going to have the TT [Saturday's time trial]. "But we've been saying that for three weeks now".

So where does that leave Froome?

The Bora-Hansgrohe rider hobbled on to his bike in the morning but had put his team on the front in the final few kilometres before eventually finishing eighth.

Teammate Egal Bernal deserved great credit for a phenomenal ride that helped Thomas maintain control of the peloton and stave off attacks in the final 40 kilometers (25 miles), with Tom Dumoulin unable to make any inroads on Friday.

Froome has also been spat at and shoved by angry spectators amid simmering resentment towards Team Sky's domination of cycling's showpiece event. But on Friday, Thomas was not thinking of joining the list.

Can Geraint Thomas further extend his lead? In recent head-to-head clashes between the two, Dumoulin has shown himself capable of taking nearly two seconds per kilometre out of Thomas in the discipline, suggesting Thomas needs a cushion of at least a minute to feel secure.

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When he did, he said: "I've been through some hard moments but I really wanted to make it to the final sprints and play my cards".

"I think the chance of winning the Tour is really, really small. Once I come out of here, there may be a surprise and shock, but for now I won't take my eye off the ball".

With the stage win, Roglič moved up to third overall, ahead of Chris Froome (Team Sky) and potentially within striking distance of Dumoulin in second if the big Dutchman has a bad day. Froome slipped from third overall to fourth at 2m 37s, with Slovenian Primoz Roglic (Lotto-Jumbo), the victor of Friday's 200km 19th stage from Lourdes to Laruns, leapfrogging Froome into third. His career has been marred by many a misfortune and shattered dreams.

Asked what advice he would give Thomas, Froome replied laughing: "I don't think he needs any".

"I was thinking about Greipel", he added. It wasn't cracking under pressure on the final day of climbing like he did in the 2016 Vuelta. This Tour is spread out, but it comes down to [Sunday].

"The best answer I could give to Greipel was to win today". "What will be, will be".

Kruijswijk attacked off the front of the yellow jersey group but Egan Bernal was climbing like a future tour victor and he reeled in the Dutchman. That was also the case in stages 16 and 17 in the Pyrenees on Tuesday and Wednesday and in the Alps, where the Tour spent three days and he claimed back-to-back victories on stages 11 and 12. I just felt my handlebars go as I was passing. There's nothing I can say to prove it. I know that we could have done more on this Tour, but it didn't smile on us. "I am feeling good but I am not going to get carried away, keep fuelling and eating and drinking as best as I can and just not let any complacency creep in". "It will stand the test of time".

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