Tour de France: Overall leader Geraint Thomas wins 12th stage

Posted in 20 July 2018

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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.

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 mother of all mountain finishes - a 14-kilometer closing climb averaging a gradient of 8 percent - is born because a hotelier wants to promote his ski resort. On the first Alpe d'Huez climb ever, in 1952, Italian Fausto Coppi (l.) left his French rival Jean Robic in his wake; scaling the summit in a solo charge and laying the foundations for his overall victory that year.