Tour de France: Geraint Thomas wins back-to-back stages to retain yellow jersey

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Thomas, who had won only one Tour de France stage in his career on Tuesday, now has three to his nameGeraint Thomas won a dramatic five-man sprint finish to secure back-to-back stage wins at the Tour de France and extend his lead in the yellow jersey.The Welshman put in a late surge to beat rivals including Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin after a gruelling climb up Alpe d'Huez.Froome attacked from the leading group and passed long-time leader Steven Kruijswijk with 3.5km to go.
But he was reeled in before Thomas confirmed he is a serious contender.The 32-year-old is the first Briton to win on the fabled Alpe D'Huez."I am speechless. There wasn't a chance in hell I was going to win today [Thursday]. I just kept following Dumoulin and Froome," said Thomas."Can we just go to Paris now[/img]
Italy's Vincenzo Nibali hit the deck with 4km to go, having apparently tangled with a motorbike, but remounted and eventually finished seventh, 13 seconds behind Thomas.The Welshman has a lead of one minute 39 seconds over four-time champion Froome, with Dumoulin a further 11 seconds back.The rest of the field are more than two and half minutes distant from Thomas.
Thomas comes good at altitude
A brutal stage which featured 5,000m of climbing, three hors categorie - the hardest - climbs and a daring breakaway by Dutchman Kruijswijk put strain on the entire field.But, when he might have been expected to fall back into a support role, Thomas once again proved stronger than team leader Froome.With four kilometres to go, Thomas led Froome across a gap to cover an attack from Romain Bardet, and was then able to follow Dumoulin as the Dutchman rode back onto Froome's wheel after the champion had launched a significant attack.And, when the leaders approached the finish as a select group, Thomas' sprint power and know-how, honed by his days on the track where he is a two-time Olympic team pursuit champion, proved decisive over the last 200m.Despite now leading overall by more than a minute and a half, Thomas insisted that Froome's Grand Tour pedigree means he remains in the service of the defending champion."Maybe I can keep the jersey for the next few days," he said. "This race is so hard and you never know how the body reacts. I am still riding for Froomey, he knows how to ride for three weeks. He is a legend, one of the best ever."
Stage 12 result
1. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) 5hrs 18mins 37secs2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Team Sunweb) +2secs3. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale) +3secs4. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) same time5. Mikel Landa (Spa/Movistar Team) +7secs6. Primož Roglic (Slo/Team LottoNL-Jumbo) +13secs7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) same time8. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana) +42secs9. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +47secs10. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/Team LottoNL-Jumbo) +53secs
General classification after stage 12
1. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky)
49:24:43 2. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky)
+1min 39secs 3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Team Sunweb)
+1min 50secs 4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain-Merida)
+2mins 37secs 5. Primož Roglic (Slo/Team LottoNL-Jumbo)
+2mins 46secs
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