French policeman pulls Chris Froome off of bike at Tour de France

Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas during Wednesday's stage to Saint-Lary-Soulan

Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas during Wednesday's stage to Saint-Lary-Soulan

The collision occurred on Wednesday during the 65-kilometer stretch from Bagneres-de-Luchon and Saint-Lary-Soulan.

Team Sky has accepted the incident with the French officer was a mistake, but Tour fans are said to be more cynical, with Froome having been spat at and shoved by angry spectators in previous days amid resentment at Team Sky's dominance of the event.

"Today I thought of him", said Demare of Greipel, who abandoned the race last week along with several other top sprinters, exhausted by extreme heat and gruelling efforts in the mountains. On Tuesday, Froome was accidentally hit with tear gas from police who were clearing the course of protestors during stage 16 between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon.

Wearing a gray rain jacket over his Team Sky kit and riding his race bike with the No.1 on his frame tag, Froome exchanged words with the gendarme.

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In the study, the researchers looked at suicide rates throughout thousands of USA counties and Mexican municipalities. The past three years were the hottest on record, the United Nations' World Meteorological Organisation said in March.

The only incident in an otherwise boring stage raced in searing hot temperatures came 105km from the finish when Colombian Nairo Quintana, fifth overall after his stage win on Wednesday, hit the asphalt when he and Briton Adam Yates were caught in a pile-up. Team Sky's Tom Dumoulin is now in second place.

The 19th stage at the Tour de France, the 200.5km run from Lourdes to Laruns, gets under way at 11.05am (BST) and is scheduled to reach KMO at 11.15am.

Thursday's trek includes a 172-kilometer ride from Trie-sur-Baise to Pau.

Team boss Dave Brailsford said they will now plan to make sure Froome joins Thomas on the Tour de France podium: "He's not out of it necessariy, there's a big mountain day to come, and the time trial".

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