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Welshman Thomas is the new leader of Le Tour de France after winning stage 11

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Welshman Geraint Thomas has ridden into the Yellow Jersey after winning stage 11 of the Tour De France.

The Team Sky rider attacked with 6km left on the final climb up La Rosiere, finishing 20 seconds ahead of Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin in second place and team-mate Chris Froome in third.

Thomas, 32, takes the race lead from Belgium’s Greg van Avermaet, who had led since the third stage.

Thomas leads the race overall from four-time Tour de France winner Froome by one minute 25 seconds.

How the race unfolded

The 108.5 KM stage, from Albertville to La Rosiere featured four categorised climbs and is the second of three consecutive days of alpine stages.

Breakaways quickly formed with Green jersey wearer Peter Sagan taking maximum points in the days only intermediate sprint.

Meanwhile, Julian Alaphilippe, winner of yesterday's stage, extended his lead in the race for the Polka Dot Jersey although conceded King of the Mountain points further up the road to last year’s champion Warren Barguil.

Race leader Van Avermaet lost time after falling off the back of the peloton on the days opening climb, giving Thomas the virtual yellow jersey.

Movistar sent GC hopeful Alejandro Valverde up the road in the hope of clawing the Jersey from Team Sky, before the Spaniard made an unlikely alliance with Dumoulin.

The pair had a lead of over two minutes to the main group of leaders with 10 kms remaining but a high tempo from Sky’s Michał Kwiatkowski brought Thomas to within touching distance allowing him to bridge across.

Valverde was dropped as Team Sky leader Froome worked with Irishman Dan Martin of UAE Team Emirates, closing the gap to Thomas and Dumoulin with 500m to go, distancing rivals Romain Bardet, Simon Yates and Vincenzo Nibali in the process.

Of the days original breakaway only Mikel Nieve of Mitchelton-Scott remained and he looked to be heading to his first Tour de France stage win only to be caught with 200m remaining.

Thomas then attacked the breakaway group to earn his first Tour stage win since the prologue of 2017’s event.

The ghost of 2012?

Team Sky’s two leaders are now ranked one and two respectively with Thomas over a minute ahead of Froome.

Six time Grand Tour champion Froome is hoping to win a record equalling fifth yellow jersey whilst Thomas, who won the Tour’s warm up event, the Criterium du Dauphine, is looking to win his first.

Riding as his domestique in 2012, Froome finished second to Wiggins six years ago, and appeared to attack his team leader during stage 11 before sitting up and waiting for him.

It was a moment interpreted as Froome showing he was strong enough to win on his own eerily similar to Thomas’ efforts today.

Though Sky have insisted Froome remains the team leader, Thomas has been given licence to race for himself through the first part of the Tour and it will be interesting to see what the future holds.

What they said

After finishing the stage Thomas told journalists: "It is unreal - I didn't expect it.

"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."

Meanwhile, on Thomas’ chances, Froome said yesterday: "I think the race, as always, will decide (leadership),

“For us, it's fantastic to have different cards to play.

"Movistar have come here with three leading riders (Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde), and with only one GC contender it becomes difficult to cover all three.

"If you look at all the GC riders, 'G' (Thomas) is right up there. It's for other teams to attack us now.

"He's riding extremely well and it just puts us in an even better place."

Tomorrow’s stage

Stage 12 starts in the Alpine village of Bourg-Saint-Maurice and will finish on the Tour’s most famous climb - Alp d’Huez.

The 13.8 km (8.6 mi) climb, with an average gradient of 8.1%, 21 hairpin bends and a maximum gradient of 13% is the stage everyone wants to win so expect fireworks.

 

Image rights - Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tour_de_France_2012,_wiggins_-_froome_(14683360257).jpg - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Geraint_Thomas_jaune_Madone_d%27Utelle_2016.JPG

Stage maps from - https://www.letour.fr/en/overall-route 

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