Team Sky's Moscon kicked out of Tour de France

Britain's Chris Froome puts drops in his eye after being sprayed by tear gas used to disperse a farmer's protest that

Wiggins didn't race the Tour again and Froome became The Protected Man, the undisputed leader of Team Sky.

Brailsford, who has previously been questioned by a British parliamentary inquiry following allegations Sky had breached ethical guidelines by abusing the legal use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) for their riders, hit out at treatment of his team on Monday.

Defending champion Chris Froome was cleared of a doping offence days before the race started but banners linking Sky to doping have been seen on the roadside and a fan slapped the Briton on the shoulder on his way up to l'Alpe d'Huez.

Cycling's unwritten rule suggest that the yellow jersey should not be attacked by a team mate but Froome has been designated as the main leader and with six grand tour titles under his belt, he should be allowed to by Sky.

And Thomas said: "It's the last mountaintop (finish) that will be most decisive".

"I think I would have to have a bad day", he said.

When asked if this could tactically benefit Froome over Thomas, their teammate Rowe responded: "It's the same for both of them because they're both aiming for the same goal".

"We get on", he added before breaking out in a grin.

Riders wait on the road after a farmer's protest interrupted the 16th stage of the Tour de France
PETER DEJONG AP Riders wait on the road after a farmer's protest interrupted the 16th stage of the Tour de France

"We expect a lot of attacks from the start".

"For me this is the highlight of my career, it's a massive honour and privilege to be wearing the jersey and have such an incredible race so far", he said.

Although 218 km long and with four categorised climbs, none of the ascents on Tuesday's 16th stage are over nine kilometres long.

Race organizers have had trouble controlling crowds with fans getting out of hand on the most famous climbs of the Tour.

Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford.

"We are at a point where a part of cycling's future is at stake", said Frenchman Romain Bardet, who rides for home team AG2R La Mondiale and is fifth in the overall standings. "It's for all the other riders in the peloton to make up time on us and dislodge us from the position we're in". "You want to recover as much as possible", Thomas said.

Thomas and Froome may be in a strong position on the podium, but Team Sky were hurt on Sunday night when Gianni Moscon was disqualified from the race for punching Fortuneo-Samsic rider Elie Gesbert early on stage 15 to Carcassonne.

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