Geraint Thomas retains lead with stage victory on Alpe d'Huez

Col du Pre pass during the 11th stage of the Tour de France as British rider Geraint Thomas claims the yellow jersey

Col du Pre pass during the 11th stage of the Tour de France as British rider Geraint Thomas claims the yellow jersey

Geraint Thomas became the first yellow jersey wearer since disgraced Lance Armstrong to triumph on the legendary Alpe d'Huez after a thrilling finale to a punishing Tour de France 12th stage on Thursday.

In a day that Geraint Thomas dominated headlines, becoming the first ever Briton to win on the Alpe D'Huez, his Team Sky team-mate contended with crowd interference.

The Welshman, who won the Criterium du Dauphine last month, won the 12th stage with a late acceleration at top of the 13.8-km climb to beat Dutchman Tom Dumoulin and France's Romain Bardet, while further extending his overall lead over his Sky team leader Froome. "It's one of those things that will stay with me for the rest of my life".

Twice an Olympic gold medal victor on the track, Thomas now leads his team leader by one minute and 39 seconds, with Dumoulin a further 11 seconds back.

Thomas's victory leaves Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford with an intriguing tactical dilemma.

Although Froome was able to stay on his bike and keep with the leading group all the way to the summit, 2014 Tour victor Vincenzo Nibali crashed in the final few kilometres, apparently hitting a spectator, and is out of the Tour due to a fractured vertebra.

"I did not expect this, it's incredible", said the 26-year-old Alaphilippe after his first win on the Tour.

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Dumoulin said he didn't have to push his physical limits to catch Froome and confirmed that Thomas, now 1 minute, 39 seconds up on Froome, was strongest on an "absolutely mental" day of racing. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) 129 3. "I'm just going to enjoy it now". I was just following Dumoulin and Bardet attacking.

Cavendish entered the race hoping to add to his 30 stage wins at the Tour and close in on Eddy Merckx's record of 34.

But the Sky train ripped into his lead over the remainder.

Nibali, the 2014 Tour champion, was fourth overall and one of the few riders who appeared capable of challenging Thomas and Froome - who sit 1-2 - for the title.

Thomas briefly appeared to lead out Froome but the four-time victor could not take advantage, so Thomas quickly moved back in control.

But despite the attitude of the fans, Thomas has every reason to be pleased with himself, even if he insists that he is still just a support rider and that Froome is the team's leader.

A series of attacks and counters inside the final two kilometres proved indecisive. Fernando Gaviria and Dylan Groenewegen, who each won two stages each in this year's race, withdrew midway through, as did Andre Greipel.

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