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Tour de France 2018: The best images from the race (gallery)

The best images from the 2018 Tour de France from Vendee to Paris. Photos: Offside/L'Equipe

The 2018 Tour de France reached a conclusion yesterday as Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) became the pride of Wales securing his first ever malliot jaune. Riding across the finish line on the Champs-Elysees, Thomas made it six wins out of seven for Team Sky as their domination of the biggest cycling race in the world continued.

Winning atop La Rosiere and Alpe d'Huez, Thomas grabbed yellow in the second week of racing. Many doubted his ability to continue his form into the third week, yet he proved by far the strongest rider in the race. 

The Cardiff-born rider did not put a foot wrong as the race tackled the Pyrenees. He consistently answered the questions thrown at him in the final mountain stages, losing just 19 seconds to any of his potential yellow jersey rivals (Primoz Roglic) before the time trial.

A nervous start in the time trial including a near-miss crash saw Thomas take the second half of his TT a little more easy, although he only conceded 14 seconds to Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), the stage winner and eventual second place overall.

Thomas's victory has put him in rarefied company now. A yellow jersey, a handful of one-week stage races, two Olympic gold medals and a Cobbled Classic, a palmares as rounded as anyone in today's pro ranks.

With the race now over, here's our pick of the est photos from three weeks of racing.

The best images of the Tour de France 

Tour de France 2018: Stages 16-21

The final week of the Tour de France started in dramatic fashion. As the peloton rolled out of Carcassone towards Bagneres-de-Luchon, a frantic start to the finish was plunged into momentary mayhem as a farmer's strike blocked the road.

The authoritative Gendarmerie drew their mace guns to hold the protesters back with it backfiring, literally, hitting the uncoming peloton. 

Once back on the road, an ultra-aggressive Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) eventually. nicked the stage after Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) took a spill on the final descent.

The next day saw the first, and most likely, last use of the Formula 1 grid system. As expected, nobody of true substance took the opportunity to attack with the race coming together before the first climb.

Eventually, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) attacked on the lower slopes of the Col du Portet, proving his natural ability to climb, winning the stage from a brave Dan Martin (UAE-Team Emirates).

Stage 18 was the penultimate chance for the quickmen. A sore Sagan was unable to add to his three stages as Arnuad Demare (Groupama-FDJ) took his opportunity against a depleted field.

The final day in the mountains provided the grandest battle of the race so far.  Proving panache is not dead, Mikel Landa, Romain Bardet and Ilnur Zakarin all attacked on the slopes of the Col du Tourmalet with 100km left to race.

They battled until the final climb of the Col d'Aubisique before being caught by a Team Sky and LottoNL-Jumbo lead group. Attacks reigned from Dumoulin and Roglic but not enough to crack Thomas. Eventually Roglic escaped for a solo stage win but Thomas had defended his lead comfortably.

The penultimate day's time trial was not the most interesting. Thomas's yellow jersey was never in danger however Dumoulin did impress to snatch the stage from Chris Froome (Team Sky).

This left just Paris. A day of celebration for Thomas and his team. The usualy procession of champagne started the day before the race reached the city streets of France's capital.

Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) attacked first, in his final Tour de France, before the race eventually came back together for a sprint finish. The winner was European Champion Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) who buried a string of near misses for the win.

Tour de France 2018: Stages 10-15

Alpe d'Huez may well have seen its best finish ever. From Thomas, Froome, Dumoulin and Bardet riding four abreast up the climb to Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) being downed by a fan before finishing the final 4km with a broken back.

Young Colombian Egan Bernal (Team Sky) proved why he is the hottest property in cycling with a mammoth 4km turn on the Huez switchbacks shutting down attacks from Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Nibali.

Pretty much every sprinter found themselves ejected from the race. Some like Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) battled valiantly beyond the time limit while others like Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) climbed off mid-stage.

This has left Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) with little competition in the sprint stages, taking his third stage of the tour. He had to lunge for the line in Valence to fend of Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) but this could have been purely for show.

Astana sprung into life over the weekend with Omar Fraile and Magnus Cort taking two stages in a row from large breakaways. Much to the disappointment of Lilian Calmejane who has been knocking at the stage win door all week.

Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) also took a stage earlier in the week. Riding off of angst alone, the 26-year-old went off on his own to Le-Grand Bornand and couldn't be caught. 

This put him into the polka dot jersey, something he has been defending since.

Tour de France 2018: Stages 1-9

From the opening stage win of Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), to the grind that was the team time trial, all the way to the joy and relief at the finish line in Roubaix before the rest day, these images capture the essence of the Tour de France so far.

Going heavy on the cobbles - as that stage was the best so far and could prove to be the best of the lot once the race reaches Paris - this gallery gets right into the middle of the peloton and will help to starve off withdrawal before the riding starts up again on Stage 10.

Stage 10 itself should be a spectacle as the race hits the mountains, and gravel, of the alps. With only Richie Porte (BMC Racing) the only of the contenders crashing out so far, this first foray into altitude should start to see time gaps opening up at the top of the General Classification.

As the race continues, team politics in those squads with more than one leader will be a watchable sideshow to the main event of the race, when legs might decide the pecking order long before heads have to.

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