Thomas wins second Tour stage in a row as Froome comes fourth

Geraint Thomas

Thomas, who had won only one Tour de France stage in his career on Tuesday, now has three to his name

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


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

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Thomas takes Tour de France overall lead with stage 11 win

Geraint Thomas

It was Geraint Thomas’ second Tour de France stage win after he clinched last year’s curtain-raising time trial

Britain’s Geraint Thomas became the Tour de France’s overall leader with an impressive victory on stage 11.

Team Sky rider Thomas attacked with six kilometres left on the final climb up La Rosiere, to finish 20 seconds ahead of team-mate Chris Froome, in third, and second-placed Tom Dumoulin.

Belgium’s Greg van Avermaet, who had led since the third stage, was well down the field in the main peloton.

Thomas leads the race by one minute 25 seconds from Froome.

However, Britain’s Mark Cavendish – who has been unable to add to his 30 stage wins in this year’s edition of the race – is out after finishing outside the stage’s time limit.

The 33-year-old was eliminated, along with fellow sprinters German Marcel Kittel and Australian Mark Renshaw.

But Thomas, who was two minutes 22 seconds behind Van Avermaet in the overall standings at the start of the day, rarely looked like faltering towards the end of the 108.5km stage, which again demonstrated the strength of Team Sky in the mountains.

Thomas bridged a gap of more than 90 seconds to deny Spain’s Mikel Nieve his first stage win on the tour and powered away from a group containing four-time champion Froome and Movistar’s Nairo Quintana.

“It is unreal – I didn’t expect it,” he said.

“We were low on numbers, so it was instinct when I went. I committed, got across to Dumoulin and then sat on. It was a shame because Mikel Nieve is a nice guy but I had to go for the win.

“It is always an honour to be in yellow. I knew it was a good chance but I didn’t know what everyone else would ride like. We were expecting attacks.

“It is never nice to see them ride away but we had confidence in each other.”

Sky’s twin-threat heading for conflict?


Thomas rides clear while team-mate Froome looks for the response in the background

It was a finale that demonstrated the delicate politics of Team Sky’s ongoing two-pronged approach to the general classification.

When Thomas launched an attack off the front of the peloton with five kilometres to go, Froome – his Sky colleague and four-time Tour de France champion – waited for another rider to follow rather than lead the chase himself and potentially aid a rival team.

After a delay, Dan Martin’s attack gave Froome a wheel to follow, but Thomas responded with a second spurt off the back of Dumoulin to take victory.

Not only did Thomas’ win secure yellow but, with a time bonus on the line, it also extended his advantage over Froome by 26 seconds.

With another taxing stage to come on Thursday, the two Sky riders may soon find themselves unable to avoid direct conflict.

Chase over for Cavendish


Mark Cavendish finished one hour five minutes adrift of stage winner Thomas

More than two years have passed since Cavendish celebrated his fourth stage win of the 2016 Tour by crossing the line in Villars-les-Dombes with the appropriate number of fingers held aloft.

He has not won another since.

Given the emergence of new sprint rivals such as Fernando Gaviria and the continued excellence of current green jersey holder Peter Sagan, Cavendish’s pursuit of the individual record of 34 Tour de France stage wins, set by Belgian legend Eddy Merckx, seems increasingly difficult.

After being forced out of last year’s race with a broken shoulder, he has looked tentative and off the pace in the various sprint opportunities so far in this edition.

Now he is bowing out alongside two fellow sprinters who are similarly not built for the high mountain passes to come.

But the fact that he managed to finish a taxing stage means he can leave the race with his head held high.

Stage 11 result

1. Geraint Thomas (Gbr/Team Sky) 3hrs 29mins 36secs

2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Sunweb) +20secs

3. Chris Froome (Gbr/Team Sky) same time

4. Damiano Caruso (Ita/BMC) +22secs

5. Mikel Nieve (Spa/Mitchelton-Scott) same time

6. Daniel Martin (Ire/UAE Emirates) +27secs

7. Jesús Herrada (Spa/Cofidis) +57secs

8. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) +59secs

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

10. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar)

General classification after stage 11

1. Geraint Thomas (Gbr/Team Sky) 44hrs 6mins 16 secs

2. Chris Froome (Gbr/Team Sky) +1min 25secs

3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Team Sunweb) +1min 44secs

4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +2mins 14secs

5. Primož Roglic (Slo/LottoNL-Jumbo) +2mins 23secs

6. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) +2mins 40secs

7. Mikel Landa (Spa/Movistar) +2mins 56secs

8. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) +2min 58secs

9. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +3mins 16secs

10. Daniel Martin (Ire/UAE Emirates) same time

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Tour de France 2018: Julian Alaphilippe wins stage 10, Greg van Avermaet extends lead

Julian Alaphilippe celebrates winning stage 10

Julian Alaphilippe put in a fine solo attack to win his first Tour de France stage

Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe claimed an impressive solo victory on stage 10 of the Tour de France as Greg van Avermaet extended his overall lead.

Alaphilippe went clear with just under 30km to go and held his advantage over the final climb to take his first Tour stage win in Le Grand-Bornand.

BMC’s Van Avermaet got into the early breakaway and held on to finish fourth, behind Ion Izagirre and Rein Taaramae.

The Belgian now leads Britain’s Geraint Thomas by two minutes and 22 seconds.

Four-time winner Chris Froome is up to sixth overall, three minutes and 21 seconds back on Van Avermaet, while fellow Briton Adam Yates is seventh, on the same time.

Team Sky and the other general classification teams know Van Avermaet, who is not a pure climber, should still lose the race lead over the next two days in the Alps but this was a superb ride to keep his yellow jersey into an eighth day.

“We were expecting that from Van Avermaet, he did that last time he had the jersey in 2016,” said Thomas, who started the day 43 seconds down.

“It would have been nice to take the yellow jersey but it’s the Tour de France – it doesn’t come easily and doesn’t come just because you want it.”

Alaphilippe finishes what he started

Alaphilippe’s victory, the first by a Frenchman in this year’s Tour, was just reward for animating the race with a fine display of climbing and descending skills.

He attacked just 5.5km into the 158.5km stage from Annecy, helping to establish a breakaway that eventually swelled to 21 riders, before being first man to the summit of the relatively straightforward Col de Bluffy.

Despite slipping back on the more challenging Col de la Croix Fry, the 26-year-old Quick-Step Floors rider surged to the front again to take first place over the hardest-rated climb of the day – the Montee du plateau des Glieres, with a 11.2% average gradient.

By now he was having to forcibly rein himself in and wait for the rest of the remaining break to help him drive on in the valleys, but once back on the slopes, he kicked clear of everyone again, also taking the summit of the Col de Romme solo.

Again he briefly waited for Taaramae, but soon left the Estonian behind, taking a far more attacking line through the corners on the descent before dragging himself up the Col de la Colombiere to ensure he also took the polka dot king of the mountains jersey.

Once over that last climb, the pursuers had no chance of catching Alaphilippe, who began celebrating 3km from the line, with Izagirre rolling in one minute and 34 seconds down.

Van Avermaet honours yellow

It is a rare sight to see the yellow jersey up the road in a breakaway on a mountain stage.

The peloton let Van Avermaet go because the classics specialist, who was second on Sunday’s cobble stage, poses no threat to the overall title – indeed post-race he rated his chances of keeping the race lead after Wednesday’s stage 11 as “zero”.

But given BMC’s leader Richie Porte abandoned on Sunday after breaking his collarbone and nominal back-up Tejay van Garderen tumbled down the standings after also crashing on stage nine, this was gutsy ride by Van Avermaet to honour both his team and the leader’s jersey in the mountains.

Team Sky made a statement of intent to their rivals, riding a typically high tempo in numbers on the front of the bunch to dissuade attacks.

Most of the favourites matched them but Colombian Rigoberto Uran, who finished second overall last year, was dropped on the final climb and is now nearly four minutes back on Froome.

“For the first big mountain stage I think the guys showed exactly what we have been training for and it was great to see we had the numbers there,” said Froome.

A summit finish on stage 11

Wednesday’s stage 11 is the second day in the Alps and features four testing climbs, including an uphill finish at La Rosiere.

In his stage-by-stage guide for BBC Sport, Mark Cavendish said: “It’s the first mountain-top finish of this year’s Tour and it’s likely to be a grinding out on the final climb because it’s not steep enough to see people absolutely blowing. A group will get whittled down gradually.”


Stage 10 result

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Quick-Step Floors) 4hrs 25mins 27secs

2. Ion Izagirre (Spa/Bahrain-Merida) +1min 34secs

3. Rein Taaramae (Est/Direct Energie) +1min 40secs

4. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) +1min 44secs

5. Serge Pauwels (Bel/Team Dimension Data) same time

6. Lilian Calmejane (Fra/Direct Energie) +2mins 24secs

7. Dan Martin (Ire/UAE Team Emirates) +3mins 23secs

8. Primoz Roglic (Slo/LottoNL-Jumbo) same time

9. David Gaudu (Fra/Groupama-FDJ)

10. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky)

General classification after stage 10

1. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) 40hrs 34mins 28secs

2. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +2mins 22secs

3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +3mins 10secs

4. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana) +3mins 12secs

5. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors) +3mins 20secs

6. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +3mins 21secs

7. Adam Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) same time

8. Mikel Landa (Spa/Movistar)

9. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +3mins 27secs

10. Primoz Roglic (Slo/LottoNL-Jumbo) +3mins 36secs

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Lizzie Deignan joins new Trek women’s team for the 2019 season

Lizzie Deignan celebrates victory at GP de Plouay last year

Lizzie Deignan hopes to return to training in December after the birth of her first child in September

Britain’s Lizzie Deignan will join the new Trek Factory Racing team when she returns to racing next season.

The 29-year-old former world champion is not competing this season as she is expecting her first child in September.

She was announced as the headline signing for the new UCI women’s WorldTour team at its launch on Monday.

“I chose Trek because rather than see me as a risk in pregnancy, they saw me as an investment and as a valued athlete,” said Deignan.

“For me that was the biggest sign towards truly believing in equality.”

Deignan is hoping to be back in training by December and will leave Boels-Dolmans, after five years with the Dutch outfit, at the end of this season.

Speaking in Aix-les-Bains on the first rest day of the Tour de France, she added: “My ambition is to always be with a team that supports you and gives you the environment that reflects what you put in.”

Deignan, who took silver at the London 2012 road race, won the Tour de Yorkshire and GP de Plouay last year, also finishing second in the Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day classics.

The new team will receive support from Trek-Segafredo, the men’s WorldTour outfit that Trek took over in 2014, with the rest of the roster set to be announced in August.

The American bike manufacturer also co-sponsors Trek-Drops on the women’s WorldTour, though Trek president John Burke confirmed that relationship will end and the British team will have to find a new bike supplier for next season.

Elsewhere, BMC Racing has announced it will merge with Polish professional continental team CCC next season, ending doubts over its future.

Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet, who is currently leading the Tour de France for BMC, has signed a three-year deal and will become team leader, with Richie Porte reportedly set to leave.

CCC, a Polish shoe and bag company, will be the title sponsor and the team will race at WorldTour level.

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Degenkolb wins stage nine as Froome crashes but finishes in pack

Chris Froome

Chris Froome was caught up in a crash during the stage but got back up to continue

John Degenkolb won a dramatic ninth stage of the Tour de France that saw Richie Porte abandon and Greg van Avermaet extend his overall lead in a chaotic race across the cobbles.

Four-time winner Chris Froome crashed but recovered to finish with the other main general classification contenders.

Porte was forced out of the race with a fractured collar bone after crashing before the cobbles arrived.

Trek Segafredo’s Degenkolb outsprinted Van Avermaet and Yves Lampaert to win.

That trio broke clear with 20km to go and, although Van Avermaet had to settle for second, the Belgian now leads Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas by 43 seconds in the yellow jersey.

Degenkolb was forced to lead out the sprint but the German had enough power to hold off Van Avemaet and Lampaert and claim his first Tour stage victory.

The 156.5km stage across the north of France contained 15 cobbled sections, with Froome tumbling over his handlebars after hitting team-mate Gianni Moscon, who fell on the entrance to the eighth sector.

However, with 45km to go at that point, the Team Sky leader had enough time to rejoin the main group and is now up to eighth overall, while fellow Briton Adam Yates, riding for Mitchelton-Scott, is ninth. They are both one minute and 42 seconds behind BMC Racing’s Van Avermaet.

‘Everyone said I was done’

Degenkolb has pedigree on the pave. He won Paris-Roubaix in 2015, the famous one-day cobbled classic known as the ‘Hell of the North’, and this stage followed a similar route.

However, he has struggled for form since nearly losing a finger after being struck by a car during a training ride with his then Giant-Alpecin team-mates in January 2016.

He was in tears after securing his biggest win since that accident, dedicating the victory to a friend who died last year.

“This is pure happiness. I was chasing this victory for so long, I’ve been through a lot,” he said.

“Everybody said I was done after the accident, that I would never come back, but I said I needed to get one really big victory for my friend.”

More heartbreak for Porte


Porte was in tears as he was led to the side of the road after his crash 10km into the stage

This was the latest in a sequence of Grand Tour disappointments for Porte, who also crashed out of last year’s Tour on stage nine, fracturing his collar bone and pelvis on a high-speed descent.

The Australian, who saw his attempts to win the 2015 Giro d’Italia and 2016 Tour ended by mechanical issues and illness, fell with a big group of riders just 10km into the stage and was led to the side of the road in tears, supporting his right shoulder.

Having won the Tour de Suisse this year, Porte was among the favourites for the podium in Paris but, at 33 years old, he is running out of time to put together a Tour challenge free of bad luck or bad days.

There was more misfortune for BMC as Tejay van Garderen, who should assume the team leadership in the mountains, also crashed and could not chase back on, falling from third to 30th overall.

Bardet clings on

It was a fraught day for all the favourites, but most will know it could have been worse.

Aside from Porte, the only other main contender to lose out was Rigoberto Uran, the Colombian crashing at about 30km to go and unable to rejoin the main group, losing one minute 28 seconds to his rivals.

AG2R La Mondiale’s Romain Bardet had three punctures, including one with just 6km to go, but chased back on each time, despite Froome putting in a brief dig at the front late on in an apparent attempt to distance the Frenchman, who lost just seven seconds on the line.

Mikel Landa also lost seven seconds, having crashed while trying to take a drink from his bottle before being paced back by his Movistar squad as their other leaders, Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, finished safely in the main bunch.

Ireland’s Dan Martin, who crashed heavily on Saturday’s stage eight, came through unscathed, even managing to grab a bonus second.

The Alps beckon

Monday is this Tour’s first rest day, with riders back in action on Tuesday in a 158.5km stage from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand, marking the first of three stages in the Alps.

In his stage-by-stage guide for BBC Sport, Mark Cavendish said: “It’s going to be the first fight between the general classification guys but I don’t see it playing a big factor in the overall result at this stage of the race.”


Stage nine result

1. John Degenkolb (Ger/Trek-Segafredo) 3hrs 24mins 26secs

2. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) same time

3. Yves Lampaert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors)

4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors) +19secs

5. Peter Sagan (Svk/Bora-Hansgrohe) same time

6. Jasper Stuyven (Bel/Trek-Segafredo)

7. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors)

8. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto-Soudal) +27secs

9. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Team Dimension Data) same time

10. Timothy Dupont (Bel/Wanty-Groupe Gobert)

General classification after stage nine

1. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) 36hrs 7mins 17secs

2. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +43secs

3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors) +44secs

4. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors) +50secs

5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +1min 31secs

6. Rafal Majka (Pol/Bora-Hansgrohe) +1min 32secs

7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana) +1min 33secs

8. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +1min 42secs

9. Adam Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) same time

10. Mikel Landa (Spa/Movistar)

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