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Team Sky cyclists Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas have sent a powerful message to their Tour de France rivals as the famous race enters its most critical stages.

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. This will be followed by the individual time trial on the penultimate day of the race.

"There are three big, big days left, and then the time trial, so (I) just take each day as it comes and we will see what happens", Thomas said.

He crossed the line 18 minutes and 1 second behind Fraile, eight seconds behind Froome, Thomas and Dumoulin after the Dutchman also attacked in the climb. Roglic sits fourth, two minutes and 38 seconds down.

Tomorrow the Tour de France's second and last rest day.

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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.

Froome was initially barred from starting his title defence by organisers because of an "adverse analytical finding" for the asthma drug salbutamol at the 2017 Vuelta a Espana only for the International Cycling Union (UCI) to clear Froome to race days before the start of the Tour de France. Both were easily reeled in, though, and Thomas said he was looking forward to spending most of his rest day in bed, resting up ahead of the Pyrenees. "It's a massive honor just to be wearing (the yellow jersey), but like I have said from the very start, who knows what lies just around the corner?"

Thomas, Froome and the rest of the overall contenders slowly rolled across the finish line at Carcassonne and its medieval city walls 13 minutes after stage victor Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark.

The trio snuck off the front of the remnants of a 29-man breakaway on the descent off the Pic de Nore as crosswinds splintered the group, and neither Izagirre nor Mollema could compete with Nielsen's sprinting skills as the Dane took a stage win on his debut Tour.

The only sustained attack against Thomas came from Daniel Martin, who is 10th at nearly seven minutes behind.

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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're trying to remain dignified, we're trying to not get distracted by it".

Sky, however, are one rider down after Italian Gianni Moscon was kicked out of the race on Sunday for hitting a French rider, which will do little for the team's popularity in France.

There was no movement at the top of the standings on Sunday, with the main contenders finishing in a group some 13 minutes after Nielsen outsprinted Jon Izagirre of Bahrain-Merida and Bauke Mollema of Trek-Segefredo. Team Astana looked to be in the strongest position, with two classy riders in the form of Michael Valgren and sprinter Magnus Cort Nielsen.

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