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Four-time Tour de France victor Chris Froome was dragged off his bike by a French policeman shortly after finishing stage 17 on Wednesday, in an incident that resulted in an angry exchange.

Colombian Nairo Quintana attacked at the foot of the final climb up to the Col du Portet to snatch a prestigious victory 28 seconds ahead of Ireland's Dan Martin, but all eyes were on yellow jersey holder Thomas and four-time champion Froome.

The Manxman is one of two Brits selected for the African team, alongside fit-again Scott Thwaites. "I was going at some speed so I came off obviously, but it was just a misunderstanding".

Thomas and Froome, helped by the unselfish efforts of teammates Egan Bernal, Michal Kwiatkowski and Wouter Poels, have proved to be unshakeable, albeit until Froome faltered on Wednesday.

"Initially I thought 'what's this?'". It looked like a fast corner, but after I just went a little more right - I was braking but it wasn't enough. "It will stand the test of time, I guess". "After I flew through the forest and I hit a big rock with my a**". I just got dropped on the only straight part of the downhill.

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"I think if somebody pulls you off the bike unexpectedly, the shock of that, if you think you're being attacked, every fair-minded person would agree your first reaction to that is going to be emotional", he said.

Pictures and videos were plastered over social media as Froome reacted angrily and shouted "F**k you" at the police officer, who appeared unapologetic for his actions having grabbed the Briton by the arm.

Geraint Thomas stayed safe in the yellow jersey as Frenchman Arnaud Demare won stage 18 of the Tour de France in Pau.

"I could have quite easily fallen or whatever, lost a bit of time or certainly not gained the time that I did", Thomas said.

"I definitely felt it". It didn't feel like a grab.

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Bales of hay blocked the road 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) into the 218-kilometer stage from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon. Froome remained second in the general classification, 1 minute, 39 seconds behind Sky teammate Thomas.

"I think (he was) a bit of an idiot".

Thomas admitted he did not realise until after the stage the exact nature of what had happened.

"The best answer I could give to Greipel was to win today". "No complacency." Despite feeling so good on the daunting 16-km climb at an average gradient of 8.3 percent, Thomas was not tempted to attack earlier, aware of how he could be affected by altitude - 2,215 metres at the summit.

Sky's domination of the race in recent years, including this 105th edition in which Thomas impressed by winning back-to-back stages in the Alps, has given fuel to the British outfit's detractors.

Instead, it was Thomas who finished the stronger of the pair, ahead of his nearest rivals but behind stage victor Nairo Quintana and Irishman Daniel Martin. A day after the sprinters got an opportunity to contest one more finish before Paris, the mountain goats of the peloton get a last chance to assert themselves on Friday.

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"Thomas has been the strongest, and that's the situation now", Dumoulin said. Despite Greipel's apology, Demare said he had used his comments as motivation.