Geraint Thomas won the 12th stage of the Tour de France on Thursday
28 July, 2018, 23:28
Quick-Step Floors rider Julian Alaphilippe of France crosses the finish line to win Stage 10 of the Tour de France.
Belgium's Greg van Avermaet was part of the breakaway group with Alaphilippe and finished fourth to maintain his grip on the yellow jersey.
Froome is 3:21 behind Van Avermaet after recovering from a punctured tire atop the second of the stage's ascents, finishing with Thomas and most of the top contenders.
Thomas accelerated in the last stretch to beat Dutchman Tom Dumoulin and France's Romain Bardet who were second and third, two and three seconds behind respectively.
However, it is now up for debate who Team Sky will ride for after the form of Thomas.
"It was some steep climbs and we were really expecting it to pick up somewhere (.) but it never really materialized", Thomas said. "He did it the last time he had the jersey".
On Monday's rest day, 2012 Tour victor Sir Bradley Wiggins had suggested his old team would "have a real problem on their hands" if Thomas took yellow ahead of Froome - who is 59 seconds back on his team-mate in sixth place.
"This is where it gets hard, as we hit first mountain stage", Wiggins said on his Eurosport show.
Wiggins also claimed team principal Sir Dave Brailsford could be "divisive" and "self-serving" in such situations - comments Brailsford laughed off after the stage. "(But) the moment I went nobody reacted", Van Avermaet said.
"As you get older and wiser, and you learn from your mistakes, you know how to manage these situations, and openness is the key..."
"We were pretty happy to have the numbers up front".
Froome punctured a tire on a gravel path atop the second climb up the beyond-category Montée du Plateau des Glières, the first use of a dirt road by the Tour since 1987. "I had a puncture on the first section, got a spare wheel from a team-mate (Jonathan Castroviejo) only to find out that was flat as well". "It was a little bit of a comedy of errors going on there".
Up next on Wednesday's Stage 11 is a 108.5-kilometer (67-mile) leg from Albertville to the top of the La Rosiere summit.
Cavendish had entered this year's race with the hope of gaining ground on Eddy Merckx's record of 34 stage wins, the Manxman having amassed 30 in his superb career.
Given the difficulty of those stages, Van Avermaet said he had no illusions of fending off Sky again.
"There wasn't a chance in hell I was going to win today".
"I'm really happy with how I'm feeling since we've hit the mountains".
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