Injured former champion Nibali ruled out of Tour de France, says team

Slovakia's Peter Sagan wearing the best sprinter's green jersey crosses the finish line to win the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling in Valence France Friday July 20

The general classification contenders led by Team Sky finished the transition stage more than 18 minutes behind victor Omar Fraile (Astana) but the last climb in Mende allowed for humble comparison.

Twenty-four hours after four-time victor Chris Froome was slapped and apparently spat at by elements within the massed crowds on Alpe d'Huez, there was fresh trouble when a spectator threw the flare around 16 and a half kilometres before the finish of the 169.5km stage from Bourg d'Oisans. Dutchman Dumoulin is behind the British duo in third, at 1:50.

"I would rather be on the podium and be booed than be on the bus and have everyone cheering me, " Thomas said.

He had a look at just how Team Sky could implode today on the climb to Mende's airstrip.

Thomas, who did not respond to Froome's initial attack, said on Wednesday the four-time champion remained the team leader, but he appeared to be the strongest rider at l'Alpe d'Huez. "I just couldn't follow".

"I attacked first, and then Thomas was on my wheel".

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They neutralized each other and arrived eight seconds behind Roglic. He returned this May, but could not handle Froome and finished second to the grand tour star. "I feel quite punchy at the moment so hopefully I will be alright", said the Welshman.

With an individual time trial to come on stage 20, Dumoulin knows that he can bide his time behind Froome in the Pyrenees and strike on his favoured terrain. "It was nice to go on fast roads, the wind was kind to us and it was a good day to get ticked off".

The sprinters' field was ravaged after stage winners Fernando Gaviria and Dylan Groenewegen, as well as Andre Greipel, abandoned exhausted after a demanding opening block of racing in extreme heat.

Stage victor Slovakia's Peter Sagan (right) just grabs the win.

The Team Sky rider, who took the overall lead on Wednesday after winning Stage 11, will keep his yellow jersey for another day.

After overzealous fans marred Thomas' win on Thursday atop the Alpe d'Huez, the otherwise complete calm of Friday's leg was briefly disturbed by a man on the roadside who tossed a smoke bomb into the centre of the peloton as it passed by with 16 kilometres left.

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