• Reuters

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Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe cracked at the top of the ascent to the Col du Galibier on Thursday, but a high-speed final descent in the 18th stage helped him regain contact with most of the big guns and retain the overall lead in the Tour de France.

The world No. 1 sustained the pace in the climbs up to the Col de Vars and the Col d’Izoard, both culminating at more than 2,000 meters, but then lost ground when his compatriot Thibaut Pinot accelerated to rein in defending champion Geraint Thomas.

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