Tour stage winner accused of getting unfair advantage
CHRIS Froome has been knocked off the Tour de France podium by Primoz Roglic, who is alleged to have gained an unfair advantage in the stage 19 torture test.
Geraint Thomas survived the five-climb mountain finale to virtually cement his first Grand Tour title, but celebrated Team Sky teammate Froome succumbed to Roglic's barrage of attacks.
Roglic launched a series of accelerations on the upper slopes of the 16.6km Col d'Aubisque to put Froome into difficulty, but it wasn't until Roglic poured on the pressure through the mist on the descent that he opened a gap to lead home the Thomas-led yellow jersey group by 19 seconds.
It was enough to catapult Slovenia's former ski jumper to third overall, 13 seconds ahead of four-time Tour champ Froome with the 31km individual time trial to come on Saturday night (AEST).
"What can I say? I'm really happy. It's crazy. A really nice feeling," Roglic said afterwards.
"Obviously I had legs today. I really tried a lot of times and finally I went away on the descent. Of course it was really perfect and I'm really happy with it."
But Tom Dumoulin, who finished alongside Thomas to maintain second spot, was furious at the finish.
Dumoulin accused Roglic of gaining an unfair advantage on the 20km descent, claiming the TV motorbike was too close and had offered Roglic a slipstream that allowed him to break clear.
"Roglic was the strongest today, and a lot of respect for his victory. But he was flying downhill and eventually I got dropped on a straight part just because he was on his tube and full in the slipstream of the motorbike," Dumoulin said.
"I was sprinting to his wheel and I couldn't get any closer. I just got dropped on the only straight part of the downhill. It's ridiculous really."
Asked if he was happy with what had happened, the German said: "No, of course not. I'm f---ing pissed."
Irishman Dan Martin said Roglic couldn't be blamed.
"Obviously Roglic got away on the downhill with the TV motorbike, but that's not his fault," Martin said.
"It was a difficult day for everyone. It's a group of very tired men trying to race their bikes. It's all part of it with the attacking and aggression there.
"When we look back on it, it'll probably look like it was fun, but I'm very, very tired right now."
While Roglic went last, plenty of rivals went earlier in a bid to improve their overall positions.
There was a long-range attack from Mikel Landa and Romain Bardet and raids from Roglic's teammate Steven Kruijswijk and Dumoulin, but it wasn't until Roglic went repeatedly on the Aubisque and again on the downhill that the deadlock was broken.
Thomas said: "We're really happy to get through that. We expected a hard day, and whew - it was really on.
"It was quite stressful when Landa went at one point and took a lot of time, and Bardet. It was just on, on all day. To come through it - it was quite a fast descent, so it was nice to get through that in one piece.
"I knew all I had to do was follow Tom Dumoulin. I knew he'd be chasing Roglic, as well. Roglic was strong, he was going today, but it was under control."
Thomas takes a virtually unassailable 2min5sec lead over Dumoulin into the hilly time trial, with the real intrigue surrounding the final positions of Dumoulin, Roglic and Froome, with the trio separated by only 32 seconds.
"I need to do a really good TT now. I have a nice advantage, but I still have to be on the ball," Thomas said.
"It's never comfortable. Even today, we knew it was going to be hard and it was super hard. Tomorrow's going to be super hard as well."
STAGE 19 STANDINGS
1. Primoz Roglic (SLO/TLJ) 5hr28min17sec
2. Geraint Thomas (WAL/SKY) 19
3. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) same time
4. Daniel Martin (IRL/UAD) s.t.
5. Rafal Majka (POL/BOH) s.t.
6. Tom Dumoulin (NED/SUN) s.t.
7. Mikel Landa (ESP/MOV) s.t.
8. Chris Froome (ENG/SKY) s.t.
9. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/TLJ) 31
10. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/TKA) s.t.
1. Geraint Thomas (WAL/SKY) 79hr49min31sec
2. Tom Dumoulin (NED/SUN) 2:05
3. Primoz Roglic (SLO/TLJ) 2:24
4. Chris Froome (ENG/SKY) 2:37
5. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/TLJ) 4:37
6. Mikel Landa (ESP/MOV) 4:40
7. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 5:15
8. Daniel Martin (IRL/UAD) 6:39
9. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 10:26
10. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/TKA) 11:49