Cycling

Thomas Wins Second Tour Stage In A Row As Froome Comes Fourth

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Geraint Thomas won a dramatic five-man sprint finish to secure back-to-back stage wins at the Tour de France and extend his lead in the yellow jersey.

The Welshman put in a late surge to beat rivals including Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin after a gruelling climb up Alpe d’Huez.

Froome attacked from the leading group and passed long-time leader Steven Kruijswijk with 3.5km to go.

But he was reeled in before Thomas confirmed he is a serious contender.

The 32-year-old is the first Briton to win on the fabled Alpe D’Huez.

“I am speechless. There wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to win today [Thursday]. I just kept following Dumoulin and Froome,” said Thomas.

“Can we just go to Paris now?”

Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali is out of the race after crashing with 4km to go, having apparently tangled with a motorbike, and fracturing a vertebra in his back.

The 33-year-old remounted and eventually finished seventh, 13 seconds behind Thomas, but was forced to quit the race on Thursday night.

Thomas has a lead of one minute 39 seconds over four-time champion Froome, with Dumoulin a further 11 seconds back.

Thomas comes good at altitude

Image: REUTERS caption: Thomas is the first man to win in yellow on Alpe d’Huez after Lance Armstong’s win from 2004 was chalked off

A brutal stage which featured 5,000m of climbing, three hors categorie – the hardest – climbs and a daring breakaway by Dutchman Kruijswijk put strain on the entire field.

But, when he might have been expected to fall back into a support role, Thomas once again proved stronger than team leader Froome.

With four kilometres to go, Thomas led Froome across a gap to cover an attack from Romain Bardet, and was then able to follow Dumoulin as the Dutchman rode back onto Froome’s wheel after the champion had launched a significant attack.

And, when the leaders approached the finish as a select group, Thomas’ sprint power and know-how, honed by his days on the track where he is a two-time Olympic team pursuit champion, proved decisive over the last 200m.

Despite now leading overall by more than a minute and a half, Thomas insisted that Froome’s Grand Tour pedigree means he remains in the service of the defending champion.

“Maybe I can keep the jersey for the next few days,” he said.

“This race is so hard and you never know how the body reacts. I am still riding for Froomey, he knows how to ride for three weeks. He is a legend, one of the best ever.”

Stage 12 result

1. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) 5hrs 18mins 37secs

2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Team Sunweb) +2secs

3. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale) +3secs

4. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) same time

5. Mikel Landa (Spa/Movistar Team) +7secs

6. Primož Roglic (Slo/Team LottoNL-Jumbo) +13secs

7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) same time

8. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana) +42secs

9. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +47secs

10. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/Team LottoNL-Jumbo) +53secs

General classification after stage 12

1. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) 49:24:43

2. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +1min 39secs

3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Team Sunweb) +1min 50secs

4. Primoz Roglic (Slo/Team LottoNL-Jumbo) +2mins 46secs

5. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) +3mins 7secs

6. Mikel Landa (Spa/Movistar) +3mins 13secs

7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) +3mins 43secs

8. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +4mins 13secs

9. Daniel Martin (Ire/UAE Emirates) +5mins 11secs

10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana Pro Team) +05mins 45secs

Courtesy: bbci.co.uk

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