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For his attacking efforts on the road to La Rosière on stage 11 of the Tour de France, Tom Dumoulin takes the Zwift Rider of the Day. The Team Sunweb leader attacked on the fast descent off the Cormet de Roselend before sprinting for bonus seconds ahead of GC rival Chris Froome. It was a gutsy move from the Dutchman on the second Alpine stage of the Tour, just a day before the vital summit finish of Alpe d'Huez. Slipping off the front of the peloton with teammate Søren Kragh Andersen 21km from the line, the pair immediately got a gap that showed it was a serious attempt rather than an exercise in keeping safe away from the peloton. After reaching speeds of up to 93.5km/h on the way down, the duo worked their way to a 40-second gap in the valley before the final climb, sweeping up Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in the process. The Spaniard had himself attacked 54km from the finish, potentially looking to set up a Movistar move that never came, or just aiming to put pressure on Team Sky.ADVERTISEMENT On the early slopes of La Rosière, Kragh Andersen dropped away having completed his work, while Valverde lasted until 9km to go. Then it was a solo ride into the headwind for Dumoulin, who was at one point pulling out time on Sky-led favourites group. He would later be joined and dropped by Sky's Geraint Thomas, in between being forced to pull the Welshman with Chris Froome still further down the mountain. Come the stage finish, the result of Dumoulin's hard work was a 20-second time loss to Thomas, two-second gain on Froome thanks to the bonus seconds, and even more time on every other GC man. It was a valiant effort for what amounted to very little reward, and it looks like the kind of tactical riding that Dumoulin will have to rely on in order to compete with Team Sky in the mountains. You have to wonder if he'd have finished alongside Froome had he been with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) et al when the Brit attacked. Reader's choice — Cyclingnews.com (@Cyclingnewsfeed) July 18, 2018
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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.ADVERTISEMENT "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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Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) won the tough stage 11 at La Rosiere with a commanding effort that saw him take the overall leader's yellow jersey at the Tour de France. He attacked a select group of GC contenders and caught and passed the last remaining breakaway rider - Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) - with 300 metres to go before throwing his arms in the air in a victory celebration. It was a short stage at only 108.5km, but a gruelling one with four categorised climbs: the hors-categorie Montée de Bisanne and Col du Pré, category 2 Cormet de Roselend and the final category 1 ascent to La Rosiere. A large breakaway of 21 riders included mountains leader Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) cleared the field early on, but it was when Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) attacked that caused a real stir from the peloton over the Col du Pré. Team Sky set a brisk tempo to keep Valverde in reach but another attack from Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) put more pressure on their GC riders Chris Froome and Thomas. As Valverde tired, Dumoulin surged on but was soon joined by a chasing Thomas on the final climb to La Rosière. ADVERTISEMENT Froome then followed as Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) chased. An attack from Martin gave way to Froome's solo chase, as the other GC contenders were left behind. Froome passed Martin and caught up to Dumoulin, just as Thomas made his winning attack for the finish line. Passing Nieve in the final metres, Thomas claimed stage glory and the yellow jersey. Watch how stage 11 at the Tour de France unfolded in the video highlights above. 
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Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) recovered from a difficult moment on stage 11 of the Tour de France to bounce back and eventually gain time on a number of his potential GC rivals. Martin was briefly dropped on the final climb to La Rosière, just as stage winner and new race leader Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) attacked with five kilometres to go. However, as the pace in the chase group eased, Martin returned to the fray and immediately responded with an attack of his own. Only Chris Froome (Team Sky) was able to match Martin on the final slopes, and although Froome later distanced him, Martin came out of the stage with his top-five chances much enhanced. He finished sixth on the stage and jumped from 17th overall at the start of the stage to 10th, 3:16 behind Thomas. "It was opportunity," Martin explained as he began to warm down on the rollers.ADVERTISEMENT "I saw that the other guys had stopped and I thought why not give it a go. I knew that in that last four kilometres everyone would be looking at each other, so if there was a chance of getting a gap then there was a chance of getting some time back." Martin knew La Rosière from the Critérium du Dauphiné and used that experience wisely as he measured his allowance on the final climb. When Froome latched on to his attack the pair began to work and immediately began to put time into Nairo Quintana, Romain Bardet and Vincenzo Nibali with 30 seconds Martin's reward at the finish. Although Froome dropped him and Teams Sky are one-two in the race, Martin was encouraged by his performance. He attacked on stage 10 but saw his efforts reeled in but his stage 11 exploits were the clearest indication that the Mûr de Bretagne winner has come through the Roubaix stage and the subsequent rest day in fine fettle. The time lost due to a crash on stage 8 severely dented any podium hopes but Martin's day-by-day mantra is perhaps his best approach given the ground he has lost to the current top three of Thomas, Froome and Tom Dumoulin, with the latter gaining a handful of seconds.
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Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) - stage winner, overall race leader It is unreal and I didn't expect it at all. We were low on numbers [at the end] and so it was more instinct when I went - it was so that we didn't get caught out and have to ride. I got a little gap and then Froome could follow the other guys. I committed and got across to [Tom] Dumoulin and was able to sit on because Froome was coming across. I could see [Mikel Nieve], and it's a shame, but I had to go for that win because it was super nice. We knew the attacks would come, and it was just a matter of trying to control them. Luckily we did. For me it was just an amazing day. I said earlier, whatever happens now is a bonus, this race has been amazing for me so far. It will be a success whatever happens now. I wasn't really thinking of taking yellow, after yesterday I knew anything could happen. To get it was a nice bonus, but to actually get the stage was a shock - it's great.ADVERTISEMENT [On taking the yellow jersey] I knew there was a good chance, obviously, but I didn't know how anyone else was going to ride. To wear the yellow jersey is always a massive honour. I managed to do it last year, and to do it two years in a row is really nice. (On leading Froome) Froome's won six Grand Tours - he knows how to race over three weeks. For me, it's an unknown. It's a great situation for the team. We'll keep riding well together, communicating as a team, and as long as one of us wins, that's the main thing. It was great having both of us there, because anything can happen, anyone can have a bad day. Hopefully both of us can be consistent. (NBC, Eurosport) Chris Froome (Team Sky) - second overall Daniel Martin (UAE Team Emirates) Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) Nairo Quintana (Movistar) Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
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The rest days at the Tour de France offer riders a chance to recover from the intense racing but, in contrast, the days without racing are the busiest moments of the race for team managers and rider agents, as they work on deals for the next season. Riders transfers cannot be announced until August 1 under UCI rules but the rest day in Annecy saw a number of deals finalised, especially after Jim Ochowicz confirmed CCC as a replacement for BMC and Greg van Avermaet agreed to stay on-board for another three years. Ochowicz has lost stage race leaders Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis to Trek-Segafredo and Bahrain-Merida respectively but has moved quickly to build a strong Classics unit around van Avermaet. Polish CCC owner Dariusz Milek would apparently love to see Rafal Majka in the new-look CCC WorldTour team. Majka recently extended his contract with Bora-Hansgrohe but, according to reports in Poland, there is still a chance that Majka could become CCC’s GC rider.ADVERTISEMENT Roelandts to Movistar? Jürgen Roelandts will apparently not be joining Greg Van Avermaet at the new CCC team next season. Instead, as Belgian newspaper Het Laaste Nieuws reports, the Belgian will be headed to Spain and Movistar, where he will be captain for the Spring Classics. Roelandts joined BMC this year after spending his entire career with the Lotto organization. While he has never won a Classic, he has consistently brought in top finishes, finishing fifth at Milan-San Remo this year.
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Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) was the only rider willing to attack the GC contenders on the opening mountain stage of this year’s Tour de France. The Irishman pushed clear of his rivals near the summit of the final climb of the Col de la Colombière, and although a headwind and Team Sky’s pursuit ended his time off the front, the stage 6 winner had no regrets. Martin’s acceleration provided a sharp contrast to what we saw for much of stage 10. Team Sky allowed a break that included race leader Greg Van Avermaet to go clear, and then shifted into their default mode of controlling affairs. Luke Rowe set the pace until the final two climbs, at which point the rest of the Team Sky collective took over. Their GC rivals patiently sat in their slipstream and although a handful of them – such as Rigoberto Uran and Ilnur Zakarin - faltered and lost time, the rest managed to remain in contention. The first day in the Alps was effectively a dead rubber in terms of the real fight for the yellow jersey. “I just thought that I’d test the guys and I was hoping that someone would come with me but I guess Team Sky were playing a bit of mind games,” Martin told Cyclingnews after finishing seventh on the stage at 3:23 behind winner Julian Alaphilippe.ADVERTISEMENT According to Martin the dominance Team Sky had in terms of numbers – they had five riders setting the pace on the final climb – was a psychological hurdle for a number of their rivals. At the Tour, defence seems to be the default tactic for a number of contenders who are willing to save their legs and race for a top-ten place rather than take a risk and look to gamble on a higher position. This was only day one of a trilogy of stages in the Alps, but Martin believed that Team Sky’s dominance acted a mind game in itself. “They had some many riders there that riders were afraid to attack, especially with a downhill finish,” Martin said. “I just thought that someone would come with me to the finish. It was also a case of testing guys out and seeing if anyone would get dropped. Even with some guys ten seconds off the back at the top of the climb, that could end up being a minute at the finish. I don’t know if guys were dropped but I thought that I’d open the legs anyway.”
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The pre-race prediction ahead of stage 10 of the Tour de France on Tuesday was that Team Sky's Geraint Thomas would inherit the yellow jersey from Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). It was a sound hypothesis given that Thomas came into the Tour as the Critérium du Dauphiné winner and had not put a foot wrong during the opening nine days of racing. The Welshman – a superior climber to Van Avermaet on paper – started the first Alpine test 43 seconds in arrears, but ahead of the other GC contenders. However, a gutsy ride from Van Avermaet – in which he infiltrated the day's break and even extended his GC lead to over two minutes – ensured that Thomas would remain second overall and therefore miss out on the yellow jersey.ADVERTISEMENT Team Sky's tactics on stage 10 were clear for all to see. They kept the break at a respectable distance but never once set a pace that suggested that they wanted to propel Thomas into the lead. Their objectives at this year's Tour are based on long-term success – and that means yellow in Paris. The British team set a fast but not unmanageable pace on the final two ascents before the finish at Le Grand-Bornand, and while a handful of GC prospects struggled after Monday's rest day, the stage ended in a relative stalemate. "I said before, it's the Tour de France, so you can't have the jersey just because you want it. Fair play to Greg. He got himself in the break, and that’s what he did last time he had the yellow jersey [in 2016], so we expected it," Thomas told Cyclingnews as he freewheeled to the Team Sky bus after the stage.
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