Published: Sun, July 22, 2018
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Thomas extends Tour de France lead with Alpe d'Huez win

Thomas extends Tour de France lead with Alpe d'Huez win

The situation is unusual: an established champion, Chris Froome, with a - faint - question mark over his strength, trailing behind a teammate, Thomas, who pledged to show loyalty, but is in the form of his life and clearly contemplating a career-defining victory.

A medley of attacks between the race favourites saw the likes of Romain Bardet (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) lose time as the yellow jersey Thomas finished alongside Sky team-mate Froome and their Dutch rival Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) more than 18 minutes down on the victor.

Slovenia's Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) caused the most damage on the double-digit climb with a stinging attack which distanced both Bardet and Quintana while seeing Roglic finish eight seconds clear of the select chasing trio.

Therein lies perhaps the only remaining intrigue in the Tour, a little world where, as the Observer's Geoffrey Nicholson wrote more than 40 years ago, the favourite pastime is speculation.

This time, Sagan was racing against a field of sprinters greatly depleted by three gruelling days in the mountains.

"I'm still riding for Froome", Thomas told reporters immediately after the stage. "Froome closed the gap and then attacked, and it was Thomas who closed the gap to Froome".

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Dumoulin became the first Dutchman to win the Giro d'Italia in 2017.

Thomas's greatest achievement has been in gaining time, incrementally, without ever making it look too blatantly like he was trying to oust the man he insisted was his leader.

Cycling - Tour de France - The 182.5-km Stage 2 from Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to La Roche-sur-Yon - July 8, 2018 - Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme. In 1985, LeMond was the challenger, Hinault the incumbent, but the American never wore yellow.

Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), judging by the three-kilometer climb that ended the 14th stage of the Tour de France, predicts that Team Sky duo Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome could turn on each other in the coming mountain stages.

"I can only renew my appeals for calm, for common sense, with regards to the riders who make up the Tour de France". The riders on the Tour, and champions of the Tour, must obviously be respected, as they are by the large majority of the public.

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