• Geraint Thomas on his way to winning Stage 11. (Getty)Source: Getty
An aggressive day in the mountains saw Team Sky assume control of the Tour de France, with Geraint Thomas taking the Stage 11 win and the yellow jersey.
By
Cycling Central

19 Jul 2018 - 2:05 AM  UPDATED 19 Jul 2018 - 6:59 AM

Stage 11 of the Tour de France finished with an explosion that came after a war of tactical attrition between the top general classification teams. After quelling early attacks from Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) it was a blistering surge from Thomas (Team Sky) that saw the long-time super domestique overhaul breakaway rider Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) to take the stage win and the overall Tour lead.  

The Welshman finished ahead of Dumoulin and defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) as Team Sky set a strong pace throughout the stage before blowing it up in the final five kilometres.

Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) was the last holdout from a breakaway and look like a good thing to take the stage victory but Thomas erupted from the select group of pre-Tour favourites and drove past the Spaniard in the final few hundred metres.

“It’s unreal I didn’t expect it at all,” said Thomas. “We were low on numbers so it was more instinct 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."

Thomas, who replaced BMC's Greg van Avermaet on the general classification, now leads the race by one minute and 25 seconds ahead of Froome while Dumoulin is next at one minute and 44 seconds.

“I knew there was a good chance [of going into yellow] but I didn’t know how everyone else was going to ride. 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 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.”

Tour Leaders
Tadej POGAČAR
Tadej
POGAČAR
Mark CAVENDISH
Mark
CAVENDISH
Nairo QUINTANA
Nairo
QUINTANA
Tadej POGAČAR
Tadej
POGAČAR
View Overall Standings

The list of casualties in Sky's demolition of the peloton reads like a who's who of the sport, including the entire Movistar team and every other rider with aspirations of an overthrow, with perhaps the exception of Dumoulin.

At the other end of the race, it was the final stage of the Tour de France for Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin), Australian Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish (both Dimension Data), who all finished outside the time cut.

With all the action during the stage, the general classification was completely overturned with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) the best of the rest after the 108.5km stage from Albertville to La Rosière Espace San Bernardo.

Stage 11 Winners
Wout VAN AERT
Wout
VAN AERT
Kenny ELISSONDE
Kenny
ELISSONDE
Bauke MOLLEMA
Bauke
MOLLEMA
Kenny ELISSONDE
Kenny
ELISSONDE

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) got the stage started, attacking along with Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Damiano Caruso (BMC), Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic) and Dani Navarro (Cofidis).

His objective was to extend his points classification lead at the intermediate sprint at Villard-sur-Doron. He duly took maximum points and, mission accomplished, the green jersey holder fell back to soft-pedal his way to the finish.

Twenty riders then made the juncture to the front of the race, including Stage 10 winner Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) who crested the Montée de Bisanne first to extended his lead in the mountains competition. Also joining was eventual runner-up for the stage honours Nieve.

Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic) also had his eyes on the polka dots, he was second atop the Montée de Bisanne and was first to summit the Col du Pré but his exploits in the leading group were eventually crushed by the Sky tempo.

Valverde tried an early attack, jumping clear on the Col du Pré to put pressure on Team Sky. Teammate Marc Soler dropped back from the breakaway to help pace his team leader, who did manage to build up a decent gap over the peloton.

Dumoulin bridged over with his own teammate Soren Kragh Andersen after attacking on the descent of the Col du Pré, forming a dangerous group for the general classification off the front of the peloton. They were gradually brought back by the relentless pace of the Team Sky squad, with Valverde succumbing first as Dumoulin pressed on.

Nieve was with Michael Valgren (Astana), Damiano Caruso (BMC) and Barguil at the foot of La Rosiere. He jumped away with less than ten kilometres left but lost it all within the final few hundred metres as he was overhauled by Thomas.