Welshman Geraint Thomas is in prime position to win his maiden Tour de France after he retaining the overall leader's yellow jersey in a lively 19th stage won by Slovenian Primoz Roglic as defending champion Chris Froome slipped down to fourth. Thomas was next to finish after sprinting ahead of Bardet and Dan Martin to take the bonus seconds, extending his lead.
Thomas held an overnight lead of 1min 39sec on compatriot Froome, but took it to 2:31 after the four-time champion crossed the finish 1:36 behind Quintana and almost a minute off Thomas.
Dumoulin would be closer to Thomas had he not been hit with a 20-second penalty in Stage 6 for straying too close to his team auto, benefiting from the draft that pulled him along.
"Every day there are always little details we can improve", Spekenbrink said of this Tour. 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. "I'll still fight for the podium and obviously we want to see "G" up there in yellow", the Guardian quoted Froome as saying.
Geraint Thomas goes into the final three days of the Tour de France with a lead of one minute and 59 seconds as he looks to become the latest Briton to win cycling's biggest race.
Sticking his tongue out in apparent exhaustion, it was a strong signal that Froome has reached his limit after winning the last three Grand Tours - the Tour and Spanish Vuelta a year ago and the Giro d'Italia in May.
Videos of the incident appeared to show Froome swear at the police officer, a reaction Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said was understandable. Some have also said he's a worthy successor to Miguel Indurain, victor of five Tours thanks to his metronomic time trial riding and cautious pacemaking in the mountains. 'But I still felt strong and had the energy to finish the race on a high'.
"Maybe he should have been notified that the riders were going to ride down but I don't think it was malicious in any way".
Bernal helped him to get back up to them the first time Froome was dropped before swinging over. The last daring escapee brought back was Estonian Tanel Kangert (Astana), passed by Quintana with 8.4km to go on the 16km long climb of the Col de Portet to the finish line.
Thomas had been lucky to escape being hauled off his bike by an "overexuberant" fan as he raced to third place at Saint-Lary-Soulan on Wednesday.
Sky sporting director Nicolas Portal, a former rider with the team, appealed to fans to use common sense.
Froome was among a large group of riders whose eyes needed treatment due to the tear gas.
Froome's chances of a fifth Tour de France all but disappeared on stage 17 on Wednesday.
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. Since Sir Bradley Wiggins won in 2012, the yellow jersey has only once left British hands, thanks to Chris Froome's wins in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.