Geraint Thomas Leads Tour De France After Winning Stage 11
Geraint Thomas took the yellow jersey in the 2018 Tour de France on Wednesday after soaring to victory on Stage 11, the second of three decisive stages in the Alps.
The Welsh rider had an impressive run on the 108.5K stage from Albertville to the summit of La Rosiere. Much of the drama happened within the last few kilometres, as Mikel Nieve of Mitchelton-Scott took the lead on the final uphill climb.
But Thomas overtook the Spaniard about 400 metres from the finish, cruising to a comfortable victory. Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin finished 20 seconds later, nabbing second place just moments before Thomas’ teammate (and four-time Tour champion) Chris Froome took third.
It was a great day for Team Sky, which now has riders in both first and second place in the General Classification. Froome jumped to second in the overall, at 1:25 behind Thomas. Dumoulin sits in third overall, at 1:44 behind.
Thomas, who wore yellow for four days last year, struggled to hide his disappointment after missing the chance to race into the lead on Tuesday when Sky’s tactics fell short of his expectations. But a day before a third and final salvo in the Alps, which ends on the summit of the legendary Alpe d’Huez, the formidable British outfit gave him a chance to make amends.
A 20-strong breakaway escaped early on the first of the day’s four climbs, but contained no threats to the team’s stage-winning ambitions. When Sky finally did come under threat, with Alejandro Valverde attacking on a climb 33K from the finish, it proved too little, too late.
Valverde raced over that summit to find Movistar teammate Marc Soler up ahead and, further up the road, found another ally in Dumoulin. But the his limits soon became clear when he refused, or was unable, to help Dumoulin when it came to taking his turn at the front.
With 15K and the final climb remaining, Sky’s impressive pacesetting held firm. Only 40 seconds behind Valverde and Dumoulin, the team had the pair well within its sights.
The final remnants of the earlier breakaway were left to their own devices when Nieve attacked 9K from the finish. A kilometre further on, Valverde was reeled in by Sky and soon dropped.
The real action came after the 5.5K-to-go mark. An attack by Thomas prompted climbing specialist Romain Bardet to counter, which prompted Froome to counter in turn. An attempt by Dan Martin to leave Froome in his wake was answered in defiant fashion, with Froome pedalling furiously to catch and then overtake the Irishman.
With less than 3K to the summit, Thomas and Dumoulin had Nieve only 30 seconds up ahead. When he came within sight, Thomas accelerated inside the final 500 metres to overtake Nieve and solo over the line with his arms held up in triumph.
For our African Team though, the day ended with the disappointment of Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw both missing the time cut on Wednesday’s incredibly difficult stage. Being well down already halfway through the stage, and certainly going to miss the time cut, Cavendish showed great courage to battle on alone to finish the stage, being the final rider to cross the finish-line in San Bernardo.