The pile-up was caused by EF-Education First's Michael Woods crashing in front of the Ineos riders, who escaped unhurt although Gianni Moscon's bike was snapped in two. "I'm fine, but it's just frustrating - obviously it was a key moment in the race, ' said Thomas, who emerged from the incident largely unscathed but for the odd graze on his arm". This time, he said he was taken out by Michael Woods when the Canadian rider crashed going around a right-hand bend.
"The boys did a great job".
"So I was kind of gassed for a bit".
Instead, the Frenchman now builds on a 23-second advantage atop the overall standings, and embraces for the Bastille Day with yellow jersey back.
With bonus seconds at play at the summit of the final categorized climb, the Cote de la Jaillere, Alaphilippe surged from a small pack of favourites near the top, with Pinot on his wheel.
Pinot is now likely to head into the first high mountain stage with huge hopes of donning the yellow jersey in Bagneres de Bigorre next Thursday.
De Gendt rode away immediately after the 200km stage from Macon kicked off alongside three other riders, and was the last survivor of the leading quartet not to be caught by the peleton.
With the break's earlier lead kept in check at five minutes by a peloton driven by Sunweb and Trek at this point, now with just De Marchi and De Gendt at 18 kilometres to go, it dwindled to barely a minute. Alaphilippe and Pinot launched their move on the final climb but could not reel him in. "But still it hurts - it hurt so much".
"My career goal was to win the Giro di Lombardia and stages at all three Grands Tour", said Pinot, who won the Italian one-day classic race previous year.
A day after his long and unsuccessful breakaway in Burgundy, Frenchman Yoann Offredo struggled with an intestinal bug at the back while pure sprinters including Dylan Groenewegen and Caleb Ewan went through a day of suffering, just making sure they reached the finish within the delays.
"It's annoying and frustrating but to come back like I did [is pleasing]."
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