Geraint Thomas makes history at Alpe d’Huez

July 19 th 2018 - 17:55

Geraint Thomas became the first British winner at Alpe d’Huez on the occasion of the 30th finish in the ski resort of the Oisans. He’s also the first rider to win a road stage to Alpe d’Huez with the yellow jersey. He outsprinted Tom Dumoulin, Romain Bardet, Chris Froome and Mikel Landa to extend his lead in the overall ranking.

161 riders started stage 12 at Bourg-Saint-Maurice. One non-starter: last year’s runner up Rigoberto Uran (Education First). After a fast start in the Tarentaise valley, Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic) was the first climber in action up to the col de la Madeleine. A front group of 30 riders was formed up the hill and split several times. GC contenders Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) were part it, as well as KOM fighters Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) and Barguil. Alaphilippe smartly outsprinted his two rivals to extend his advantage.

Kruijswijk alone at col de la Croix-de-Fer

Alaphilippe and Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) rode away in the downhill of la Madeleine. They waited for their former breakaway companions. Pierre Rolland (EF) escaped at the exit of the feed zone of Saint-Avre (km 74.5). He crested the Lacets de Montvernier alone in the lead and got reinforced at the bottom of the col de la Croix-de-Fer by Valverde and Kruijswijk who was the virtual leader of the Tour de France as Team Sky led the bunch with a deficit of four minutes. Barguil was first to rejoin them up the hill and it became an 11-man front group with 80km to go. Kruijswijk rode away solo 73km before the finish. He got a maximum advantage of 6’15’’ over the peloton led by Mathias Frank for AG2R-La Mondiale and later by Marc Soler for Movistar but Team Sky seized the reins of the pack again in the descent to the Oisans valley.

Brave Bardet at Alpe d’Huez

Kruijswijk started climbing to Alpe d’Huez with an advantage of 4’20’’ over a group of thirty riders comprising all the members of the top 15 overall. It was down to 3’30’’ with 10km to go. Successively, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) tried to escape but Team Sky brought them back quickly. The offensive of Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) with 7.5km to go enabled the Frenchman to ride away until he got caught with 4km to go by Froome who overtook Kruijswijk 3.5km before the line. Bardet attacked again with 2.5km to go. While Nibali was chasing back after crashing, five riders were reunited at the front and Thomas proved to be the fastest of them all. He also took the 79th yellow jersey of Team Sky (since 2012), just as many as Movistar who was leading the tally among the participating teams of the 105th Tour de France.

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