Thomas extends Tour lead amid unsavoury scenes at l'Alpe d'Huez

Doug Mendoza
July 21, 2018

The 2014 champion believed he may have touched a motorbike but television footage suggests he came into contact with a spectator on the right side of a narrow road that lacked barriers to protect the riders.

In 2013, French freeride mountain biker Romain Marandet jumped over a group including eventual victor Chris Froome of Team Sky during the 100th edition of the race.

"I just had an opportunity". Thursday marked the second straight day that he padded his lead over Sky teammate and defending Tour champ Chris Froome. During today's 12th stage of the Tour, Froome was accosted by a fan who lunged toward the cyclist as he made his way up a hill.

Though Froome saw his deficit to yellow grow, he called Thomas' lead a "dream position" for Sky. "But we have to bear in mind that if it impacts on the race, as it did with Nibali today, then that's too much".

Dumoulin is third overall, one minute 50 seconds behind Thomas.

"I saw a massive occasion to take the yellow jersey".

With questions over which rider Sky is backing for victory, it was a bold demonstration of strength by Thomas, who has been Froome's loyal lieutenant for years.

"I'm still riding for Froomey", he said.

"To win the stage is incredible, certainly one of the best days of my career, so now I'm going to enjoy the day tomorrow".

Thomas extends Tour lead amid unsavoury scenes at l'Alpe d'Huez

The 109-mile stage features three beyond-category climbs - Col de la Madeleine, Croix-de-Fer and the iconic Alpe d'Huez finish after 21 switchbacks to close out the Tour's three days in the Alps.

Thomas had actually appeared in danger of losing yellow at the mid-point of the stage, with LottoNL-Jumbo's Steven Kruiswijk, who started the day sixth overall at two minutes and 41 seconds down, enjoying a lead of more than six minutes as he went clear of the day's breakaway.

Thomas has publicly remained loyal to Froome in interviews.

"We didn't expect Kruijswijk to attack so hard, " Thomas said. They have a really strong team and they are capable of pulling anything back.

Thomas, of Team Sky, completed an impressive ride on the 108.5km stage from Albertville to the summit of La Rosiere by overtaking Spaniard Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton) in the closing metres.

Yet last year's runner-up Rigoberto Uran lost time as he struggled on the last climb.

The sprinters' field was ravaged after stage winners Fernando Gaviria and Dylan Groenewegen, as well as Andre Greipel, abandoned exhausted after a demanding opening block of racing in extreme heat.

The three-week race ends July 29 in Paris.

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