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Demare edged countryman Christophe Laporte and Norwegians Alexander Kristoff and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

But before he did, Australian pair Luke Durbridge and Mathew Hayman were among five escapees on the 171km run from Trie-sur-Baise. I hope it is going to be better in one or two days.

Despite his injury, he stood on the podium to accept the award for most combative rider.

"In the last 200 metres I just thought I would go for the bonus seconds and get a little time gap as well", he said.

"We played a bit of cat and mouse with the peloton".

Points classification leader Peter Sagan, who endured a hard time on Wednesday, took charge with about 10km to go but as the Slovakian dropped back, Demare saw his chance and powered through to pip his compatriot Christophe Laporte by a whisker. "Just have to keep doing what we're doing".

Team Sky has employed a personal bodyguard for Froome and additional security, while the Tour has employed extra security in the wake of recent terror attacks in France.

"The energy in the team is really positive because if it wasn't we wouldn't be trying like that".

Quick-Step have had their fun, Philippe Gilbert and Tim De Clercq now being out means it's all about another stage with for Julian Alaphilippe tomorrow as he has the polka dots so no pulling from them but Yves Lampert and Niki Terpstra could both try something either long range or late from the front.

Greipel, one of several sprinters who pulled out in the Alps, while others, like Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel, missed the time cut, accused Demare of holding on to a vehicle to make it through the mountains on Stage 16.

After watching that stage, Greipel, who was one of many fast men to be sent home for missing the time cut in the Alps, tweeted: "Maybe someone should tell @GroupamaFDJ and @ArnaudDemare that there is Global Positioning System tracking in @LeTour". Greipel later deleted his post and apologised, but speaking before his win on Thursday, Demare was still angry.

He said: "I crashed in a turn - in the corner I made a mistake".

"This is for my wife, my family and my friends".

"That was a hard crash but, fortunately, I haven't broken anything and I feel confident about the last four stages of @LeTour". They include the iconic Col d'Aspin (12km at 7.3 per cent gradient), Col du Tourmalet (17.1km at 7.3 per cent) and Col d'Aubisque (16.6km at 4.9 per cent), the last of which is followed by a 20km descent to the finish. With Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa on his side, Quintana can challenge Thomas, Chris Froome, and the rest of the Sky climbing crew.

Having missed out on a chance to compete on the Champs-Elysees at the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish will spend Sunday (July 29) competing in the RideLondon-Surrey Classic instead.

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