Bring it on - Thomas itching to deny home Tour de France winner

Geraint Thomas is relishing the challenge of trying to prevent a first home Tour de France winner in 34 years being crowned.

Defending champion Thomas will on Tuesday start the final week of racing trailing leader Julian Alaphilippe by a minute and 35 seconds.

The Team INEOS rider reduced Alaphilippe's advantage by 37 seconds by dropping him late in stage 15 on the Prat d'Albis on Sunday.

Thibaut Pinot trails his fellow Frenchman Alaphilippe by only 1:50, while Steven Kruijswijk is also within two minutes of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step frontrunner.

Thomas is raring to go ahead of a flat 177-kilometre stage 16, which starts and finishes in Nimes, as he battles to retain his title and prevent a Frenchman from taking the top step of the podium in Paris on Sunday.

Asked about fighting it out with French contenders roared on by partisan crowds, the Briton said: "I'd love it, I'd relish it. Bring it on."

Thomas revealed he was not feeling great when he struggled and lost time on Alaphilippe in the closing stages of a brutal ascent of the Col du Tourmalet on Saturday, but was pleased with the way he hit back 24 hours later.

He added: "We stick together. Yesterday [Sunday] I said on the radio I didn't feel great coming into the last climb, but as it turned out I did feel great at the top.

"The main thing is going into the Alps I feel motivated to try and finish this Tour off well. It's been a slightly up and down race compared to last year but the main thing is I finish strong and I'm itching to go a lot better there."


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