Stage 18 saw local hope Demare, who had been accused by fellow sprint specialist Andre Greipel of holding on to his team auto in Wednesday's mountain stage to avoid missing the time cut, perfectly set up by Italian team mate Jacopo Guarnieri.
But the Frenchman, who angered stage runner-up Christophe Laporte by veering from his line when he launched his final burst from inside 200 metres, was inspired by comments aimed at him by Germany's Andre Greipel.
"I think if somebody pulls you off the bike unexpectedly, the shock of that, if you think you're being attacked, every fair-minded person would agree your first reaction to that is going to be emotional", he said.
"I didn't want to risk anything, which was why I left it as late as possible", said Thomas, when asked about his strategy. "It's a shame that people cast doubts over my performance and my hard work".
"This isn't how I wanted to finish my Tour and leaving it like this really hurts".
Team Sky's Geraint Thomas finished close behind the sprinters to tighten his grip on the yellow jersey three days before the 21st and final stage in Paris.
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But the Australian team's luckless Tour campaign hit a new low when their British leader, under pressure from a rapidly closing Alaphilippe, hit the bitumen on a left-hand bend and was overtaken as he remounted his bike. "I think it was just too much to drink, a bit of an idiot".
"I was in a lot of pain".
"It's the last mountain stage and guys are going to try to take as many opportunities as they can. It will be interesting, but we've been riding really well all race".
Meanwhile, Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford yesterday has apologised for suggesting the nasty reception his team have received at the Tour de France is a "French cultural thing". With another gruelling trip across the Alps and Pyrenees, who will wear the yellow jersey on the Champs-Elysees?
"I have pain everywhere, but still I am quite happy I can keep racing", Sagan said.
Bora rider Sagan is mathematically assured of his sixth green jersey for the points competition but, having won three stages already, admitted he was lucky to still be in the race. "I flew into the forest, like a bird".
However, before that, there is one final and very hard Pyrenean stage to come. They include the iconic Col d'Aspin (12km at 7.3 per cent gradient), Col du Tourmalet (17.1km at 7.3 per cent) and Col d'Aubisque (16.6km at 4.9 per cent), the last of which is followed by a 20km descent to the finish.