Geraint Thomas played down any potential leadership issues within Team Sky after taking a resounding stage 11 win at La Rosiere, and with it the yellow jersey. Thomas attacked a group of GC contenders, including his teammate Chris Froome, with five kilometres remaining on the first summit finish of the race.
The Welshman’s attack brought him towards an earlier move that included Tom Dumoulin, and with just over one kilometre to go Thomas attacked for a second time to take the stage and the lead. He now tops the overall standings with Froome – who also attacked several times and finished third on the stage – in second overall at 1:25. After two days in the Alps, Team Sky occupy the first two steps on the podium, with Dumoulin, Vincenzo Nibali and a host of other names scattered throughout the top ten.
For Thomas, this marks a new step in his career. He, of course, wore yellow in the 2017 Tour after winning the opening time trial, but Wednesday’s triumph marks his first mountain stage, and the Critérium du Dauphiné winner is certainly in the form of his life. Behind him sits Froome, the four-time Tour champion and recent victor of the Giro d’Italia and, according to Thomas, the real leader of Team Sky’s Tour squad.
“Obviously Froome is the leader. He’s won six Grand Tours and for me, it’s an unknown. It was more a case of trying to get through the stage and stay in the position that we’re in and try not to lose time on GC. It was more of an opportunity and instinct when I went,” Thomas said in his press conference.
As the dust settled atop La Rosiere several points began to surface – the sort that don’t often appear obvious in the heat of the battle. For instance, Froome’s attack with Dan Martin and then his acceleration to drop the Irishman neatly matched the kicks from Thomas both in terms of timing and opportunity.
This was choreographed dominance. Froome’s moves were also the clearest indication yet that he is the leader, and that the hot topic of Team Sky’s leadership is moot unless Thomas continues to lead the race into the Pyrenees. Perhaps for some, the thirst for a perceived controversy over leadership is somewhat easier to digest than the reality of Team Sky’s one-two dominance, and the fact that despite Movistar’s earlier assault with Valverde and Soler, the British team still had six men in the front group as the final climb began in earnest.
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