Nielsen wins 15th stage, Thomas still in Tour de France yellow

Elena Summers
July 23, 2018

Team Sky Team Principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, said in a statement released by the team: "We support and accept the decision by the race organisers to exclude Gianni Moscon from the Tour de France".

On Sunday, Team Sky's Gianni Moscon was disqualified from the race for hitting another rider.

"We're in this dream position, first and second on the general classification - if nothing changed between here and Paris, fantastic, we've nailed the Tour de France".

"I would like to offer my honest apologies to both Elie Gesbert and Team Fortuneo for this unacceptable incident".

In 2017 he was suspended for six weeks and sent on a diversity awareness course after racially abusing Reza during the Tour de Romandie, while in June this year he was cleared of deliberately causing a crash with Reza's team-mate Sebastien Reichenbach - an incident which was alleged to be related.

Throughout the race, spectators have voiced their disapproval of the Team Sky rider.

A breakaway group of 29 riders- none of which posed a threat to Thomas' overall lead- got away early.

Sky's victory bid was potentially dented when the team lost Italian rider Gianni Moscon on Sunday after he was thrown off the race for striking Frenchman Elie Gesbert of the Fortuneo team.

With some questioning whether team unity might crack under the pressure, Froome told Sky News he was confident ahead of the competition's final week.

Froome said Thomas, 32, is now the stronger of the two as the Welshman has ridden an "absolutely faultless race" to take the leader's yellow jersey into the final week.

"Anything can happen. Three big days in the Pyrenees to come plus a hard time trial".

With one week remaining, Froome sits second in the overall standings, 1 minute 39 seconds behind Thomas.

With that job done, Froome latched on to a move from Irishman Dan Martin, eventually catching Dumoulin to finish third on the stage, 20 seconds back. Primoz Roglic was fourth at 2:38 behind and Romain Bardet 3:21 behind in fifth.

So far, Thomas and Froome have not attacked each other, but that uneasy truce could be put to the test as the race enters its decisive phase.

While the Welshman Thomas is attempting to win the Tour for the first time, the Kenyan-born Froome is aiming for a record-tying fifth victory in cycling's biggest race. Many days ago they already said that this was the stage for me and that I should go out in the break with Valgren.

"For me this is the highlight of my career, it's a massive honour and priviledge to be wearing the jersey and have such an incredible race so far", he said.

Four-time victor Froome, 33, is second overall, trailing fellow Team Sky rider Thomas by one minute 39 seconds after 15 stages. He finished the hilly 181.5-kilometre (112.7-mile) leg from Millau that ended in a long descent to Carcassonne in 4 hours, 25 minutes.

It is Cort Nielsen's third grand tour win after he won two stages in the Vuelta a Espana in 2016, and Astana's second in this year's Tour after Omar Fraile won Saturday's 14th stage.

Former French cyclist Jerome Chiotti, who in 2000 admitted doping with the Festina team, compared Sky's dominant performances to those of disgraced American Lance Armstrong and his US Postal team. "We were always in the right place, and it's a good day to get done".

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