Defending champion Chris Froome may well have ceded his crown to Team Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas on Stage 17 of the 2018 Tour de France.

While Froome was being dropped on the Col du Portet, Thomas was trading blows with Tom Dumoulin and Primoz Roglic and he eventually extended his lead to almost two minutes after an explosive final few metres.

Stage 18 offers some respite for the general classification contenders ahead of the final day in the Pyrenees on Friday, which includes the brutal climbs of the Col d’Aubisque and the infamous Tourmalet.

Thursday’s precursor is a 171-kilometre flat run from Trie-sur-Baise to Pau, which will be the penultimate opportunity for the sprinters to get a stage win.

The action will be live in the UK on Eurosport and ITV4, and in the United States on NBC. To live-stream, use the Eurosport PlayerITV Hub or NBC Sports App. 

On paper, Thursday is a sprinters’ day, but there is a big question of how many will be up for the fight after 17 stages and a recent foray into the Pyrenees.

Many of the top sprinters are also already out of the race, including two-time 2018 stage winners Dylan Groenewegen and Fernando Gaviria, per ITV Cycling:

Peter Sagan would be another candidate having already won three stages this year, but he fell during Wednesday’s action and will be simply looking to make it to Paris at this point:

As a result, it could be a day for the breakaway. Those who attack and hit the front early may just stay away on a day with just two Category 4 climbs. 

The GC contenders will be looking to mark each other and get through safely ahead of the mammoth Stage 19 and the individual time-trial the next day.  

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