Sky rider Moscon expelled from Tour de France for hitting rival

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Video footage was reviewed by the race commissaires after the stage, in which Thomas and Froome safely maintained their positions at the top of the general classification.

Froome is team leader at Sky, owns 6 Grand Tour titles and can win a record-equalling 5th yellow jersey here.

With a single-word answer this morning, Chris Froome cleared up a huge amount of the speculation that has been swirling around Team Sky ever since Geraint Thomas won back-to-back summit finishes last week.

The move hurt Frenchman Romain Bardet, who ended up 22 seconds off Fraile's pace.

Many will agree with Brailsford's assessment but at the same time his comments are bound to inflame the situation further when the race resumes after Monday's rest day. Many days ago we already discussed this stage and he told me it could suit me really well.

The three came to the final kilometre together, but Nielsen proved to be too strong for his rivals and won the sprint easily to make it two wins in a row for the Kazakhstani squad.

But while Team Sky could celebrate, Team Dimension Data did not get the Mandela Day gift they were hoping for as Mark Cavendish was eliminated from the Tour for missing the time cut.

In response to the same question, Thomas said it would "depend where Dumoulin is" and only if the Dutchman remains third but slips to 10 minutes back would the two Team Sky riders "maybe go man versus man and actually race each other".

Stage 15 from Millau to Carcassonne was custom made for a breakaway win.

Race leader Geraint Thomas was booed on the podium ceremony after winning that stage.

The irony is that Thomas had just been saying how nice it was to have a day in which he did not have to "fight", with Team Sky controlling the bunch behind the day's breakaway.

"I was feeling good in the finale and felt confident". "I imagine for our rivals it's making their lives quite hard, having two guys to watch like that".

It came a day after Britain's Mark Cavendish, Australian Mark Renshaw and Katusha star Marcel Kittel were all eliminated after failing to make the time cut at the end of Wednesday's 11th stage. Not only do Thomas and Froome lose a key helper for the third week - albeit Sky were the only team with a rider in contention for the maillot jaune still to have all eight riders - the incident is hardly going to help relations with the locals.

The British outfit have detractors, both stemming from their recent dominance of the sport, and because of a recent anti-doping investigation into Froome, which was dropped in early July.

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said he "supported" and "accepted" the decision, adding that Moscon was "desperately disappointed in his behaviour" and knew that he had "let himself, the team and the race down". They were the ones that came up with this tactic.

He added: "I'm not sure they would like to have seen their (France) football players being spat at (the World Cup) in Russian Federation".