Geraint Thomas prevailed in the Alps for the second straight day, streaking past the field in the final kilometer. Chris Froome finished second; he remains more than a minute and a half behind his colleague at Team Sky.Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas reinforced his grip on the yellow jersey on Thursday, winning the 12th stage to the summit of Alpe d’Huez.
In a riveting finish, the Briton finished the grueling 175.5-kilometer (109-mile) mountainous stretch from Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs 2 seconds ahead of Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, with Romain Bardet of France finishing third.
Defending champion and Thomas’ Sky teammate Chris Froome finished in fourth, receiving jeers from the crowd as he crossed the line. Team Sky’s dominance in recent years, perhaps coupled with currently unproven allegations of cheating, has tested some fans’ patience.
The leading pack swapped positions quite a few times as they climbed the last 13 kilometers up the 1,850-meter (6,070-foot) high Alpe d’Huez, whose gradient can be up to 11 percent. But Thomas, a former track rider, remained with his Team Sky pack before turning on the jets with a half of a kilometer to go.
With questions over which rider Team Sky is backing for victory, the Welshman, who has been Froome’s loyal lieutenant for years, put in a bold performance to retain the yellow jersey, which he picked up after winning Wednesday’s 11th stage. Thomas’ lead over Froome now sits at 1 minute, 39 seconds.
Thursday was the 30th time the Tour de France pack has navigated from Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs to Alpe d’Huez. It was the first time the stage — a veritable fan favorite — has been used since 2015.
The race becomes a bit more downhill in Friday’s 169.5-kilometer 13th stage from Bourg d’Oisans to Valence.
dv/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)