Wild ride: The Tour’s craziest moments
FROM the incredible to the farcical - there is never a dull moment at the Tour de France.
The 105th edition of the world's biggest annual sporting event will live long in the memory.
It has showcased Geraint Thomas' coming of age, Richie Porte's devastating deja vu, crazy fans and even crazier cops - these were the moments that mattered in the 2018 Tour de France.
IT TAKES a matter of hours for the Tour de France to bare its teeth, with a routine opening stage turning into an accident-packed finale that claimed the likes of Richie Porte and Chris Froome.
Porte loses 51 seconds, but isn't on his own. American Lawson Craddock smashes into the bitumen, crossing the line with a face covered in blood, a broken left shoulder and then tears in an emotional TV interview.
Desperate to ride on, his painful fight to finish each stage comes with a promise to donate $100 to a Houston velodrome badly damaged by a hurricane, with Gofundme campaign also established. At last check, Craddock had raised more than $144,000.
BLING PULLS THE PIN
STAGE 5 of the Tour is less than an hour away from starting in Lorient when Michael Matthews walks out of the Team Sunweb bus, gets in a car and is driven off.
The Australian, last year's green jersey winner, is out of the race after waking up during the night with a rising fever and vomiting.
"We've been monitoring him since he was isolated from the rest of the team … but he's not in a condition to start a bike race," team sports director Luke Roberts said.
THE stuff of nightmares struck less than 10km into Stage 9. Richie Porte was out of the Tour de France again, breaking a collarbone in an innocuous wrong-place, wrong-time crash.
In tears by the side of the road, the Tasmanian contender again faced the cruel reality of his Tour campaign ending in a French hospital instead of the Champs Elysees podium.
Porte was in a good position after his BMC team had produced a stellar team time trial in Stage 3 and was one day away from navigating his way through a well-documented difficult first half of the race and getting to the Alps.
"It's massively disappointing. I came here with good form, a super strong team and Stage 9 it's all over. It's obviously not as bad as last year, but it may as well be," Porte said.
THE fact a Team Sky rider won the Tour's first summit finish at La Rosiere on Stage 11 was no great shock. But the fact it was Geraint Thomas and not Chris Froome certainly was.
The man known as "G" surged clear of a dwindling lead group, pipped Mitchelton-Scott's heartbroken Mikel Nieve in the final 400m and took a hold of the Tour he wouldn't relinquish.
Thomas' win and 1min25sec general classification lead over Froome enhanced an intriguing teammate-versus-teammate battle for the yellow jersey.
"Obviously 'Froomey' is the leader. He's won six Grand Tours and for me it's an unknown," Thomas said diplomatically.
But it would seen become clear to everyone that he was the strongest man in the race.
PUBLIC ENEMY NO. 1
THEY might have copped the boos before the Tour started, but it wasn't until the infamous Alpe d'Huez and Stage 12 that Team Sky copped the full brunt of anger from a French public suspicious of their ongoing dominance and Froome's eligibility.
Froome was pushed by a spectator and spat at by at least one other, but it was Italian Vincenzo Nibali, riding for Bahrain Merida, who became the biggest victim of a day in the Alps that spiralled totally out of control.
Nibali's handlebars got caught in the camera strap of a spectator standing too close, causing him to crash and suffer fractured vertebrae. He somehow got up to finish the stage, but later abandoned the race with his team considering legal action against race organisers.
JUST when Team Sky's reputation in France couldn't get much worse, Gianni Moscon decided to lower the bar.
Moscon was booted out of the Tour de France at the end of Stage 15 after video emerged of Sky's Italian domestique swinging his right arm at the head of French rival Elie Gesbert.
Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford and sports director Nicolas Portal visited the technical zone at the finish line after the stage to review footage with the commissaires.
With teams already reduced from nine to eight riders, Moscoon's expulsion took Sky down to seven, but they didn't miss a beat.
TEAR GAS ANYONE?
EVEN by Tour standards, this was among the weirdest incidents to hit the race.
The riders were accidentally sprayed with tear gas after a group of protesting farmers caused chaos on Stage 16.
The protesters had dragged hay bales onto the road, blocking the path for the oncoming peloton. But in a desperate bid to clear the area, heavy-handed police then unloaded large spray canisters that spray back into the riders' faces.
The race was stopped for 15 minutes as a large number of riders received medical attention and used water bottles to flush the spray out of their eyes.
AFTER three Tour de France titles in a row and three Grand Tour wins in succession finally it happened - Chris Froome cracked.
It was the revolutionary Stage 17 - only 65km in length but packed with elevation - that got the Brit in the end.
While looking far from dominant, this was the time loss that signalled the end of Froome's dominant run.
Nairo Quintana won the stage, but it was a Primoz Roglic attack followed by a Tom Dumoulin acceleration on the Col du Portet that saw Froome's hopes evaporate.
Meanwhile, Thomas answered every challenge in the greatest sign yet this was his Tour to lose.
"I think that I'm in a good position now," was his blunt assessment.
AND JUST WHEN IT CAN'T GET WEIRDER
ON the same day Froome saw his bid for a fifth Tour title go up in smoke, he was tackled by a policeman in a case of mistaken identity.
In a bizarre postscript to a dramatic day in the Pyrenees, Froome was riding down the mountain after finishing when he was grabbed by an over officious gendarme, causing him to crash.
The police are charged with keeping the roads clear for the riders, particularly on a summit finish when their lavish team buses can't navigate their way to the finish line.
With temperatures falling and riders desperate to avoid sickness, Froome was wearing a nondescript grey rain jacket on the ride down when he was grabbed.
The pair exchanged words before Froome remounted and continued down the mountain.