Mountain bike Olympic champion Tom Pidcock took his first Tour de France victory at the age of 22 as he became the second Briton to win at L’Alpe d’Huez, four years after Geraint Thomas on the last visit of the race to the ski resort of the Oisans. He arrived solo to the top before South Africa’s Louis Meintjes while Chris Froome rounded out the podium on his big return to the front scene of the Tour de France. Pidcock becomes the youngest winner at L’Alpe d’Huez before Lucho Herrera who was 23 when he scored the first ever Tour de France stage victory for Colombia. Jonas Vingegaard retained the Maillot Jaune despite two strong attacks by Tadej Pogacar.
ANTHONY PEREZ ALONE AT COL DU GALIBIER
159 riders started stage 12 in Briançon at 13.18. Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) was the first attacker of the day. He was joined by Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Kobe Goossens (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Matîs Louvel (Arkéa-Samsic) and Sebastian Schönberger (B&B Hotels-KTM) at km 6. Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) came across as Perez rode away solo 5km before the summit of the Galibier. The Frenchman crested in first position, two minutes before the peloton from which Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) had gone clear.
CHRIS FROOME IN THE BREAKAWAY
In the downhill, Perez was joined by Ciccone, Meintjes and Powless after 40km of racing. Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadier) joined Froome in the downhill in the chase of the escapees. The British duo caught up with the seven leaders, Louvel having dropped down, at km 60. The nine escapees were timed 6’55’’ ahead when the peloton led by five Jumbo-Visma riders started climbing to col de la Croix-de-Fer at half way into the 165km long stage. 5.5km before the summit, Pidcock shook up the front group, then reduced to five: Froome, Powless, Pidcock, Meintjes and Ciccone. The latter passed the line of the hors-category KOM in first position and 4’15’’ before the peloton.
PIDCOCK BY HIMSELF IN THE LAST 7.5KM
Pidcock’s accelerations in the downhill gave the leading quintet an advantage of 6’05’’ at the bottom of the 13.8-km long final ascent to L’Alpe d’Huez. Powless was the first rider to lose contact ater 2km of climbing. Pidcock attacked with 10.5km to go. He sped up again 7.5km from the top to drop Meintjes off. It was the definite move to claim the stage victory even though his advantage only grew slowly to 40 seconds. Froome’s bravery was rewarded with his first top 3 in a Tour de France stage since 2018. Caught by the GC favourites at the very end, Ciccone missed out on the polka dot jersey that remained on the shoulders of Simon Geschke.
TWO VAIN ATTACKS BY POGACAR
4.5km before the end, Pogacar attacked from the yellow jersey group reduced to five riders. As Vingegaard managed to follow him, the Slovenian stopped pacing. He went on the attack a second time with just over 2km remaining but it was the same outcome. Pogacar showed on the finishing line that he’s the best sprinter of the two but Vingegaard defended himself in style, proving on his first day in the yellow jersey that he’s a well-deserved leader of the Tour de France.