TDF: Thomas Wins First Big GC Battle

Geraint Thomas attacked his way to the yellow jersey as the battle for the 2018 Tour de France explodes in the mountains

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

TDF: Thomas Wins First Big GC Battle

Geraint Thomas is back in the yellow jersey he already wore for four days last year. He won stage 11 to La Rosière-Espace San Bernardo as he overtook breakaway rider Mikel Nieve in the last few hundred meters. His team-mate and defending champion Chris Froome moves into second overall.

Pic: Getty Images

165 riders started stage 11 at Albertville. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) rode away with Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Damiano Caruso (BMC), Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic) and Dani Navarro (Cofidis) to win one more intermediate sprint at Villard-sur-Doron.

The green jersey holder was first to drop back to the peloton while several counter attacks took shape. 20 riders formed the front group in the hors-category Montée de Bisanne where Alaphilippe extended his lead in the KOM competition. Team Sky ruled the peloton until Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) launched an attack 5km before the top of col du Pré where defending King of the Mountains, Barguil took 20 points in his quest for a second polka dot jersey.

Alaphilippe paid for his efforts on the first Alpine stage and was brought back by the pack. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) who has been the race leader for eight days stopped fighting for his position on GC on the ascent to col du Pré. Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Valverde and Geraint Thomas (Sky) were successively virtually in the yellow jersey.

Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott), Michael Valgren (Astana), Caruso, Barguil and Amaël Moinard (Fortuneo-Samsic) started the final climb to La Rosière in the lead while Tom Dumoulin and Soren Kragh (Sunweb) combined forces with Valverde and Marc Soler (Movistar). It was an interesting move by Valverde and Dumoulin, two serious challengers of favourites Team Sky.

Nieve went solo 9km before the end. Only in the last kilometre, was he passed by Thomas who had attacked from the main group to catch Dumoulin. After winning the inaugural time trial in Düsseldorf last year, the Welshman took his first normal road stage of the Tour de France ahead of Dumoulin and Froome who sits in second place overall 1’25’’ down on his team-mate.

… continued after advert



Geraint Thomas: Wearing the yellow jersey is a massive honour. I managed to do it last year and to do it two years in a row is really nice. We were low on numbers so it was more instinct [to attack] so we didn’t get caught having to ride – I saw a little gap. I committed to going across to Dumoulin and I was able to sit on of course, as Froome was coming across and I could see Frosty [Mikel Nieve] and he’s a good mate, it’s a shame you know, but I had to go for the win”.

“I knew there was a good chance [of going into yellow] but I didn’t know how everyone else was going to ride. We were expecting attacks and when they go, it’s never nice to see them going away but we had confidence in each other and rode really well.”

Pic: Getty Images

Chris Froome: “It’s an amazing position for us. I don’t think we quite expected that going into today’s stage. I think initially everyone thought Alpe-d’Huez would be the decisive stage, and it still very well could be, but I think it puts us in a fantastic position ahead of tomorrow’s stage. I think [Thomas’ attack] was a bit of a spur of the moment thing for us but I think it made sense. It was perfect, we didn’t even have to talk and it was the right thing for G to do to push on there. I let the wheel go because I knew the onus would be on the rest of the guys to chase.

“[Dan Martin] put in a big acceleration there and I was surprised that I was the only one on his wheel. I think the main guy who stands out right now as a threat to us is Tom Dumoulin. He rode a very impressive stage today. I guess it depends how everyone is going to back up tomorrow as tomorrow is a really big stage.”

Dan Martin: “It was a really good opportunity. I was coming up fast from behind so I thought I’d give it a go. I knew that on that last 4km everyone would be looking at each other and not really riding and if I was able to get a gap I’d have a good chance of pulling some time back. So all in all I’m really happy with it. I was pretty tired at the end, but considering how I’ve been feeling, I think today was a really good operation.”

Pic: Getty Images

He continued: “After the crash, I hadn’t really been thinking about the GC, I’ve just been doing my best every day and we’ll just have to wait and see the results at the end of the Tour. Any day a rider can have a bad day and lose time. If I hadn’t crashed I’d be in a really nice position today, maybe fourth! Overall, I’m loving the mountains. The last two days have been great. This is the race you think about all year – these mountains and these crowds there’s just no feeling like it.”

Tom Dumoulin said: “The attack was improvised, we went on intuition. Søren was in the break and he is a mad man in the downhills. I told him to go at the front and go fast, but not take any risks and suddenly we had a gap. He did such an amazing job, the whole team were brilliant today. I had a lot of guys with me for the whole day which was great. I actually learned to ski in this village when I was a little kid.”

“My uncle rented a house here and the whole family came. This spring he passed away, just two weeks after my aunty also passed away. So my dad lost his brother and sister within two weeks of each other. Today I really wanted to perform well for them and I hope that I did them proud. I’ll keep doing my best everyday. Today I had a good day, maybe tomorrow I pay for it but I’m happy with today.”

Pic: Getty Images

Damiano Caruso: “I was really motivated this morning and wanted to go in the breakaway. I was able to do that and then, we went ‘à bloc’ all day. On the last climb, I tried to do my best but the GC guys caught us almost at the top of the climb. For me, it is not a victory but for sure, it is a good sign and it shows that I am in good shape. So, if I feel good tomorrow I can maybe try to go in another breakaway or take an easy day and wait for another occasion.”

“I finished 13th here at the Dauphiné and fourth today so maybe next time I will win this stage. I knew the stage really well and I knew what to expect this morning so, it was a little advantage for me. It was a different race today and with a higher level than in June so, I am happy and I think the team is happy too.”

Greg Van Avermaet: “It will be strange to go back to my normal jersey. I like this jersey and I like my bike but tomorrow it is back to normal. These were great days at the Tour de France, I’m happy with how I raced with the yellow jersey and for me, it was one of the nicest moments of my career that’s for sure. It was super hard today. I felt like I didn’t have great legs but you still have to do the parcours, and even just doing the parcours was pretty hard.”

Mikel Nieve: “It was a shame not to win because there was very little left to the finish line, but with three kilometres to go I knew the gap was small. I gave it everything but it’s like this, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. We will try again. I did all day in the breakaway and I was on my limit. I could not do anymore.”

Vincenzo Nibali: “I breathed for a moment – commented Vincenzo Nibali, and then I left. I managed well thanks to my physical condition which is still very good. On the last climb the pace imposed by Team Sky was really remarkable – he added – and in many we lost seconds. Today was like this, but we are only halfway through the Tour and there are still several stages to recover“.

Alejandro Valverde: “My legs didn’t really feel bad. We played the cards we had to play, doing what we had planned. We gave it our all, and that’s the most important thing to me. Nairo and Mikel tried to stay as close to the main contenders as they could, and our team-mates were excellent, with Imanol, Bennati, Amador and a really superb Marc Soler. We were the team who took the biggest efforts to try something different. Hats off to Sky – they were superior today and it’s our turn to keep trying tomorrow, as well as for the remainder of the Tour. There’s plenty still to come in the race, and we’ll be tackling the hardest stage in the Alps tomorrow. The Alpe d’Huez finish brings us many good memories. We’ll continue to do our best to shine in this race.”

Nairo Quintana: “We tried to play a bit, but to be honest, we didn’t feel like we expected to in the finale. It was a fast race all day, tough pace for us, and we lost some seconds which I hope won’t compromise our goal to fight for the race.”

Mikel Landa: “The day was simply too hard for me. My back started hurting at the first climb, and up La Rosière, I just couldn’t follow the pace. We will check with our doctors how I’m doing and value on which steps we must take. We had to try some moves, and surely Valverde’s attack hurt some people in the bunch. Now we have to examine the current race situation, rest up a bit and see how we feel tomorrow. This final climb wasn’t the best for us Nairo or myself, either – it suited better ‘power climbers’ like Geraint Thomas. A huge Alpe d’Huez climb will be awaiting for us tomorrow, a brutal stage really – we’ll have to keep trying and make a hard race for the rest.”

Steven Kruijswijk: “We lost time on Thomas, Froome and Dumoulin, but we didn’t lose time on some of the others. And on some we actually gained time. In that respect, we’re doing good. In the end, I was a bit struggling to hang on, which cost some energy, but all in all it was a great day for us. I think I showed today that my shape is good and with Primoz in a good shape as well, we can hopefully continue this way in the coming stages. The team is really strong. Antwan was his weight worth in gold in the final today.”

Primoz Roglic: “It could have been a lot worse. I didn’t have the best legs today, but with Steven I continued to keep fighting to the finish. The most important thing now is to stay focused. We’ll take it day by day. We’ll keep fighting.”

The day ended with the disappointment of Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw both missing the time cut on an incredibly difficult stage. Being well down already halfway through the stage, and certainly going to miss the time cut, Cavendish battled on alone to finish the stage, being the final rider to cross the finish-line in San Bernardo.

Roger Hammond (Re Mark Cavendish) “It’s never great to lose any riders, especially the two Marks, given the three potential stages ahead, that we could have had a go at. There is a ray of sunlight with Serge, who is having a great tour, being in the front and fighting for stages, and having the virtual yellow shows how consistent he has been in the two mountain stages.”

… continued after advert


1 Geraint Thomas Team Sky 03h 29′ 36”
2 Tom Dumoulin Team Sunweb 00′ 20”
3 Chris Froome Team Sky 00′ 20”
4 Damiano Caruso Bmc Racing Team 00′ 22”
5 Mikel Nieve Mitchelton – Scott 00′ 22”
6 Daniel Martin Uae Team Emirates 00′ 27” – –
7 Jesus Herrada Cofidis, Solutions Credits 00h 00′ 57” – –
8 Romain Bardet Ag2r La Mondiale 00h 00′ 59” – –
9 Vincenzo Nibali Bahrain – Merida 00h 00′ 59” – –
10 Nairo Quintana Movistar Team 00′ 59” – –

11 Primož Roglic Team Lotto Nl – Jumbo 00′ 59” – –
13 Mikel Landa Movistar Team 01′ 47” – –
20 Warren Barguil Team Fortuneo – Samsic 03′ 08” – –
23 Alejandro Valverde 78 Movistar Team 03′ 30” – –
26 Jakob Fuglsang Astana Pro Team 00h 03′ 53” – –
27 Bob Jungels Quick – Step Floors 04′ 42” – –
28 Adam Yates Mitchelton – Scott 04′ 42” – –
36 Bauke Mollema Trek – Segafredo 11′ 29” – –
60 Pierre Rolland Team Ef Education First – 17′ 51” – –
71 Greg Van Avermaet Bmc Racing Team 22′ 23” – –

1 Geraint Thomas Team Sky 44h 06′ 16”
2 Chris Froome Team Sky 01′ 25” B : 4”
3 Tom Dumoulin Team Sunweb 01′ 44” B : 6”
4 Vincenzo Nibali Bahrain – Merida 02′ 14”
5 Primož Roglic Team Lotto Nl – Jumbo 02′ 23”
6 Steven Kruijswijk Team Lotto Nl – Jumbo 02′ 40”
7 Mikel Landa Movistar Team 02′ 56”
8 Romain Bardet Ag2r La Mondiale 02′ 58”
9 Nairo Quintana Movistar Team 00h 03′ 16”
10 Daniel Martin Uae Team Emirates 03′ 16”
11 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team 04′ 28”
12 Jakob Fuglsang Astana Pro Team 4′ 53”
13 Ilnur Zakarin Team Katusha Alpecin 04′ 58”
14 Mikel Nieve Mitchelton – Scott 05′ 21”
15 Bob Jungels Quick – Step Floors 5′ 50”
16 Adam Yates Mitchelton – Scott 5′ 51”
17 Domenico Pozzovivo Bahrain – Merida 06′ 36”
18 Damiano Caruso Bmc Racing Team 10′ 01”
19 Serge Pauwels Team Dimension Data 10′ 30”
20 Pierre Roger Latour Ag2r La Mondiale 11′ 46”

… continued after advert


Cycle Division’s Shop

Send your results as well as club, team & event news here

Other Results on VeloUK (including reports containing results)

Other News on VeloUK

Tags: ,