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Geraint Thomas is wearing the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. He has won back-to-back stages in the Alps. Thursday marked the second straight day that he padded his lead over Sky teammate and defending Tour champ Chris Froome.
At least for now, however, Thomas continues to toe the party line.
“Froomey is still our leader. He knows how to race three weeks,” Thomas said after his triumph in stage 12. “Who knows? Anything can happen to me. I could lose 10 minutes.”
Thomas stayed safe through a hectic first nine stages and benefited from an excellent team time trial to put himself in great shape in the GC before the Tour arrived in the Alps. Since then, however, he has confirmed his credentials with two brilliant rides high up in the mountains. He stormed into yellow with a stage 11 victory Wednesday and rode to a second win on Thursday atop one of cycling’s best-known climbs, the Alpe d’Huez.
The Welshman survived a brutal final few kilometers on the switchbacks and then turned on the afterburners in the last few hundred meters to win the day.
“Even as I crossed the line, it was, ‘Surely there is someone still up the road,'” he said. “Insane, like not even in my wildest dreams did I think I would win at Alpe d’Huez, and to do it in the yellow jersey …”Geraint Thomas led out the sprint and won atop Alpe d’Huez. Photo: Chris Graythen | Getty Images
Thomas now finds himself 1:39 ahead of Froome in the general classification, with third-placed Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) a further 11 seconds back. With the Alpine stages done, Thomas will — barring a crash — likely remain in yellow through the second rest day.
Sky started this Tour de France featuring Froome as the leader, with Thomas given wildcard status after years of putting in loyal domestique work. With Froome staring down a lingering anti-doping case and coming off a hard-earned win at the Giro d’Italia, it was logical for Sky to have a second option.
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Analysis: Craddock’s data reveals extreme demands of TourAmerican Lawson Craddock continues to churn away stage after stage through the Alps, despite a broken shoulder.
Few expected that second option would enjoy a commanding race lead after the midway point of the Tour de France. And he is showing no signs of slowing down.
Froome has described Sky as being in an “amazing position” with two riders so well-placed after stage 11.
Sky principal Dave Brailsford echoed that after Thomas doubled up on stage 12.
“It doesn’t change that much, it’s still a similar position as we were in yesterday. It’s still a nice position to be in,” he said.Thomas has publicly remained loyal to Froome in interviews. He seemed to back that up, if only briefly, on the road Thursday. When domestique Egan Bernal pulled off the front for Sky, it was Thomas who hit the front to pull back an attacking Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale). From there, he mostly followed wheels. Froome was the only one of the Sky duo to put in a sustained attack, one that was ultimately reeled in by Dumoulin.
That said, Thomas did go all in for his own stage victory aspirations in the finale, for the second day running — and for the second day running he pulled it off.
He says he’s just trying to make the best of his form for now, without knowing what the full three weeks will hold for him. After all, Thomas has never landed even a top 10 result in a grand tour. It remains to be seen whether he can keep this up into the Pyrenees.
“It would be nice [to win the Tour] but I’m tired, everyone is tired,” he said. “You don’t know what is going to happen. I am just going to try to enjoy tomorrow.”Fred Dreier contributed to this report from L’Alpe d’Huez, France.
Read the full article at Thomas gains time but stands behind Froome on VeloNews.com.

On a day when his EF Education First-Drapac team leader Rigoberto Urán abandoned the race, American Lawson Craddock continued to churn away stage after stage through the Alps, despite suffering a broken shoulder on stage 1.
Through Tour de France stage 11, Craddock had ridden for 49.5 hours, 1,156 miles, averaged 271 watts (normalized power), gained 70,900 feet in elevation, and averaged a heart rate of 137 beats per minute.
“Everyday has gotten a bit better for sure,” Craddock said after stage 12, which finished atop Alpe d’Huez. “Obviously the mountains are quite a bit different than the first nine stages. It’s just been a lot more torque on [the shoulder] than usual when I stand and get up. I was really happy just to make it through today’s stage. It was carnage out there.”Through stage 11, Craddock rode over 1,100 miles, nearly 71,000 feet, and averaged 271 Watts.
We first took a look at Craddock’s Whoop data after stage 4. As a reminder, it’s helpful to understand how the Whoop strap works. The “strain” score is a summary of cardiovascular load, or how hard the heart is working. It measures this by analyzing heart rates relative to your heart rate zones. The more time you spend in the upper reaches, the higher your strain score gets, on a scale from 0 to 21. It is a logarithmic metric, rather than linear, meaning the higher you get on the scale, the more difficult it is to build strain.
The “recovery” score is, simply, an athlete’s capacity to take on strain. In the morning, an athlete generates a recovery score (on a scale from 0 to 100; scores closer to 100 indicate an athlete has more capacity, both physically and mentally, to deal with strain). The metrics which comprise recovery are heart rate, heart rate variability, and sleep performance.
Let’s take another look at the Texan’s Whoop data to better understand the extreme physical demands of the Tour de France. Through stage 11, Craddock averaged a recovery score of 46 percent, a strain score of 19.6, and average sleep of seven hours and eight minutes, or 72 percent of what he needed.Craddock’s Whoop “strain” scores for the past two weeks. CLICK TO ENLARGE
Since the Tour began, Craddock has accumulated a string of incredibly high strain scores. He posted his highest, 20.7 (out of a possible 21), on stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez. His lowest score, 18.3, came during the team time trial, when he was able to sit up during the last portion of the stage after dropping behind his teammates. It’s worth reminding that Craddock has been posting such scores just to make the time cut, and is obviously not competing at the front of the race. While we can’t compare his figures to those of the GC contenders, it’s fair to say that everyone at the Tour is pushing himself to the limit day after day. In Craddock’s case, that has meant altering his riding technique in order to complete the stages.
“I’m definitely riding a lot differently,” he said. “It’s not ideal. You spend seven months riding in one position and then at the Tour you have to switch it around a bit. My body has been adjusting.
I’m having to pull up with the pedals a lot more, instead of using a fluid pedal motion. I’m using my hamstrings a lot more than I usually do. And I’m feeling it a bit. I’m still here, today was one of my better days.”Craddock’s Whoop “recovery” scores for the past two weeks. CLICK TO ENLARGE
If we look at Craddock’s recovery scores during the past two weeks, we notice that he’s actually improving from the place he was at coming into the Tour. Ironically, Craddock noted how the few days prior to the Tour are not ideal preparation for one of the most demanding athletic competitions in the world.
“The few days running into the start of the Tour de France are unlike any other,” Craddock said. “The stress surrounding the race is almost worse than the actual stress during the race.”
In the past week, Craddock has posted two good (green) recovery scores. The first followed the flat stage 8 into Amiens. Following a much-needed rest day on Monday, Craddock awoke with a 70 percent recovery.
“While I’ve made improvements in my recovery, I’m still quite sore from the Roubaix stage,” he said. “Today was a rough day for me. I felt better than expected on the first climb, but that feeling was short lived. I suffered over the second mountain pass, but once we hit Col de Romme I was cooked. I struggled mightily to maintain contact with the gruppetto, and forced myself to only look at the next kilometer.”
Despite the strenuous ride in stage 11 on July 18, Craddock still managed a yellow recovery, after getting nearly eight hours of sleep.
“Stage 11 was a nasty day,” his coach Jim Miller said. “The stage had 11,000 feet of climbing, over which Lawson posted a 261 TSS and a 308 Watts normalized power for 4 hours and 10 minutes. And with all that, he still finished 26 minutes behind the stage winner. It is hard to convey just how good these guys are.”
His sleep data reveals that over the past two weeks he’s averaging almost nine hours in bed per night, and sleeping more than the average athlete in Whoop’s database during this same time period. He’ll need to continue to rest and recover as hard as he rides to combat the high strains he’s posting.
“The last three days that have been extremely difficult,” Craddock said. “Straight out of the rest day they threw everything at us. A lot of the peloton was in pure survival mode today so yeah, I’m really happy just to make it through another day at the Tour.”
Read the full article at Analysis: Craddock’s data reveals extreme demands of Tour on VeloNews.com.

For a brief moment, three kilometers from the top of Alpe d’Huez, a chink appeared in Chris Froome‘s armor, and Tom Dumoulin saw it.
Sky’s defending champion had spun up the road in his familiar style, head down, elbows out. It looked like he was on his way to his first Tour de France victory on the famous climb in stage 12. But with a churning tempo behind, Dumoulin chased Froome down, nevermind the fact that he was marked all the way by Sky’s Geraint Thomas, wearing yellow.
Now, he and his Sunweb team director Luke Roberts say they think they’ve cracked the code to beat Team Sky.
“Yeah, I learned they try to keep both in GC and don’t ride behind each other, and Froome had the chance to attack and G [Thomas] didn’t. So, that’s good to know for the future,” Dumoulin said.
Dumoulin is perhaps the only rider with a legitimate chance of challenging either Thomas and Froome in the overall. He is third overall after stage 12, 1:50 behind. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) is fourth, 2:37 behind, but his future is unclear following a crash that sent him to the hospital after Thursday’s stage.
After that duo of former grand tour winners, the field thins out. Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) is fifth, 2:46 back but completely unproven as a GC leader in three-week races. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) is next, 3:07 behind in sixth but his weakness as a time trial rider could spoil his Tour on stage 20‘s ITT. Plus he has only four teammates left in the race. Movistar’s Nairo Quintana is the only other proven grand tour winner in the top 10, ninth and 4:13 behind after faltering on Alpe d’Huez.The group of GC favorites approached the Alpe d’Huez summit finish. Photo: Tim de Waele | Getty Images
So it is up to Dumoulin to challenge Sky. Roberts says that, based on what he saw in the Alps, the possibility to take yellow remains.
“In the last two days they’ve shown their weakness,” said Roberts. “They have a high level with five-six riders. They can ride a hard tempo, but they can’t make Geraint go much faster. Bernal was there and had a good day today. But then Thomas himself was put on the front to pull relatively early. Should they start to feel the effects of the Alps in the Pyrenees, they could show weaknesses.”
Plus, Roberts and the Sunweb team should be encouraged by Dumoulin’s fighting spirit and confidence. After stage 12, the Dutchman fumed.
“I wanted to win today,” Dumoulin said. “I let myself down and made a mistake with shifting in the finale and it was my fault. It was lost before the sprint started. I think I had a chance. Thomas was slightly stronger, but if I played it smart I would have had a start and now it was lost.”Dumoulin chased down Froome with Thomas right on his wheel. Photo: Tim de Waele | Getty Images
Dumoulin went on to say he felt he was stronger than Froome on the day and that Thomas sat on his wheel when the wind picked up. “That is the advantage of having two guys in the GC,” he added.
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After a flat stage 13 and two medium-mountain stages through the weekend, the Tour reaches the Pyrenees Tuesday. That is where Dumoulin and his Sunweb team will need to determine the best tactic to unseat Team Sky.
“We’ll have to assess after Monday as we head into the Pyrenees,” Roberts added. “Is Thomas still a contender or is he showing weakness into the last week? Do we need to keep the gap close to Froome and then go toward the final TT or do we need to bring some time back on Thomas? We’ll have to see how it pans out.”
Team tactics and missed shifts aside, Dumoulin should be able to count on one thing in the Tour’s second half. Stage 20’s 31-kilometer time trial through French Basque Country will be an ideal day for the world time trial champion to challenge whichever Sky rider is wearing yellow.Fred Dreier contributed to this report from L’Alpe d’Huez, France.
Read the full article at Dumoulin, Sunweb say they’ve found Team Sky’s weakness on VeloNews.com.

ALPE D’HUEZ, France (VN) — Everyone in the Tour de France peloton seems to be on their knees after three days across the Alps. Except Team Sky.Sprinters are abandoning, pre-race favorites are fading, yet Team Sky looks as strong as ever with Geraint Thomas in yellow and Chris Froome tucked in at second.
Yet Movistar’s Mikel Landa sees a ray of light. The former Sky rider is sensing a few fractures in Sky’s Fortress Froome.
“We are seeing Sky strong, but maybe they’re not as strong as a unit as they have been before,” Landa said after Thursday’s stage 12. “That gives us a little bit of hope to be able to do something in the Pyrénées.”
Landa rode two seasons in Sky colors and was instrumental in helping Froome win last year’s Tour en route to his own fourth place overall.
From the outside, Sky might seem as strong as ever. Landa, however, sees hints of an opening to attack Sky’s flanks.
“These three days have been brutal in the Alps and we saw Sky a little bit more tired as well,” Landa continued. “If there’s an opening, we have to be ready to take it.”
Mikel Landa rolled up to the start of stage 10 bandaged from a fall on the cobblestones, but he had no trouble in the Tour’s first Alpine stage. Photo: Chris Graythen | Getty Images
Landa’s take might seem a little off-kilter considering how Thomas has won two stages in a row and holds a commanding lead over his teammate and defending Tour champ Froome.
But Landa is also seeing how Thomas and Froome might start to fray at the edges if the leadership issue isn’t resolved. Team Sky continues to say its first bet is on Froome.
“I don’t know how they will handle [leadership],” he said. “Sky is always strong, and Froome is always good in a grand tour, but the Tour is far from over. We have to keep fighting, be it the podium, a stage win, or whatever.”
Movistar has done its best to take it to Team Sky for two days in a row with mixed results. Alejandro Valverde attacked Wednesday and Thursday but lost time, while Nairo Quintana struggled to keep pace Thursday and on Alpe d’Huez lost 47 seconds to Thomas. Landa rode through back pain to fight for the stage 12 win, crossing the line fifth at seven seconds back. Landa, who crashed heavily on the cobblestone stage, leads the Movistar “blues” in seventh at 3:13 back.
“My back was hurting even worse today than it was yesterday. When I make a hard push, I can feel I am losing power,” Landa said. “I gave it a little run there at the end, they caught me, and I ended up even losing a little bit more.
“I am very satisfied, to tell the truth. On the first climb and descent, I was really suffering, and I had in mind to go home. That things turned around and I was able to be in the fight leaves me very satisfied.”
Landa vows to keep fighting and is emerging as Movistar’s best GC candidate after the team came to the Tour with three options.
“I have a problem; I know I should be there, but my crash at Roubaix is really impacting me,” Landa said. “The last week the heart and the head will count for even more.”
Read the full article at Landa: Maybe Sky isn’t as strong as before on VeloNews.com.

On a Tour de France stage that finished with a thrilling GC showdown on the Alpe d’Huez, early escapee Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) gave the day’s most stirring performance.
The Dutchman soloed out of the breakaway 72 kilometers from the line on Thursday’s stage 12. For a while, it seemed like he might take the stage and perhaps even the yellow jersey. Unfortunately for Kruijswijk, the final climb saw Egan Bernal (Sky) set a vicious tempo in the chase, and then a knockout battle among the GC riders.
Kruijswijk’s advantage evaporated and he was left with nothing but the day’s combativity award.
“It’s painful. This was one of the stages that was high on my list,” Kruijswijk said after the finish. “It’s a big disappointment for me, but I’ll keep on fighting.”
Even if he came up short, Kruijswijk’s impressive ride will have his team optimistic that the next mountain raid might succeed.
“A lot of respect for my roomie and what he did. He is riding really strong, really relaxed this Tour,” LottoNL’s Robert Gesink said. “I think he’s going to do some more impressive stuff in the day’s ahead.”
Kruijswijk started the day 2:40 down on race leader Geraint Thomas (Sky). That made it all the more interesting when he and Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde decided to have a go in the breakaway. The other escapees were none-too-pleased to have a pair of GC outsiders for company, but the peloton allowed the riders up the road to work up a decent advantage nonetheless.
Kruijswijk had Gesink in the break as it forged up the day’s first climb, the Col de la Madeleine.
“On the bottom of Madeleine, it was quite hectic. Everyone wanted to be in the break it seemed, and also some of GC riders went,” Gesink said. “Stevie [Kruijswijk] was there and we made the best of it together.”Kruijswijk was one of the surprise riders in stage 12’s breakaway given his standing in the overall. Photo: Justin Setterfield | Getty Images
After the hors categorie Col de la Madeleine and the category 2 Lacets de Montvernier, Kruijswijk, Valverde, and Pierre Rolland (EF Education First-Drapac) found themselves in the lead on the lower slopes of the day’s penultimate climb, the Croix de Fer. That’s when Kruijswijk threw his Hail Mary, powering away solo on the 29-kilometer climb, with an ascent of the Alpe d’Huez still to climb.
Incredibly, he went up and over the Croix de Fer summit with a six-minute advantage, giving Dutch fans reason to believe in his chances of the stage win at the very least. A Sky-led pack of chasers, however, cut his gap significantly on the ensuing descent and the flat run-in to the Alpe d’Huez.
“Sky came together as a team and did a lot of pulling in the valley. It was quite quick towards Alpe d’Huez,” Gesink said. “Solo, it takes a lot of energy out of you.”
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He started the final climb with a gap of a little over four minutes. The tireless efforts of Egan Bernal ate into that advantage and soon the yellow jersey was out of reach. Then the stage win came into question. Kruijswijk’s advantage was down to one minute with five kilometers left to race — and finally, Bernal pulled off the front and left the GC favorites to battle it out.
The back-and-forth of attacks spelled the end for Kruijswijk. Chris Froome (Sky) surged past 3.5 kilometers from the summit, followed by a selection of other overall contenders. From that point on, it was a matter of limiting the time losses in the general classification for Kruijswijk.
On the bright side for LottoNL-Jumbo, Primoz Roglic managed to hang with the GC favorites most of the way up the final climb, finishing just 13 seconds down on stage winner Thomas. Kruijswijk came home inside of a minute on Thomas. Fellow early escapee Valverde, by comparison, ultimately gave up over four minutes on the day.
As the Tour leaves the Alps, Roglic sits fifth overall, with Kruijswijk eighth on GC. Considering the brutal Alpine terrain the Tour has now traversed and the immense strength Sky has shown so far in the race, LottoNL should be pleased to still have a pair of riders inside the top-10 overall.
Kruijswijk will have a chance to recover Friday as the Tour takes on a mostly flat stage 13. Before long, however, the race will reach the Pyrenees. Don’t be surprised to see the Dutchman giving it another go when the road tilts upward again.Andrew Hood and Fred Dreier contributed to this report from L’Alpe d’Huez, France.
Read the full article at Kruijswijk resolute after stage 12 heartbreak on VeloNews.com.

A win atop Alpe d’Huez is a crowning achievement for any cyclist, especially a GC favorite in the Tour de France. Yet in his four times racing up the 21 hairpin bends, Chris Froome has never come home first.
Thursday’s stage 12 will likely go down as a particularly sour vintage of Alpe d’Huez for the Brit.
Throughout the 13.8-kilometer summit finish, he was harangued by the public lining the roadway with boos and jeers. His teammate Geraint Thomas sprinted to win the stage, wearing the yellow jersey. He is the first yellow jersey-wearer since Lance Armstrong to win on the Alpe.
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Thomas was not perturbed by the verbal abuse.
“People have their opinions, and that’s fine,” said Thomas. “As long as they don’t affect the race that’s the main thing.”
Froome did not speak to media after the finish of stage 12. After the three-day gauntlet of Alpine stages, he is 1:39 behind Thomas.
Thomas was also booed when he took the podium following his victory.
However, on his way to finishing fourth, some reports indicated that Froome endured more than just jeers, that one fan spat on him.
“Yeah, I didn’t see that but if people don’t like Sky and want to boo that is fine, do all you like but let us race, don’t affect the race, don’t touch the riders don’t spit at us,” Thomas added. “Have a bit of decency. Voice your opinion all you want but let us to the racing.”
At one point, a fan lunged at Froome on the final climb. Fortunately, he did not interfere with the race.

Some idiot having a go at Froome #TDF2018 pic.twitter.com/ZM2E6jtE5D
— Trevor Ward #FBPE (@willwrite4cake) July 19, 2018
Former Tour de France stage winner and three-time green jersey winner Robbie McEwan, who now does TV commentary on the Tour, posted a photo of a fan being arrested. Although he said this fan was the one who punched Froome, the man looks to be wearing different clothing.

The “fan” who punched Froome during the climb of Alp d’Huez. Cuffed & processed pic.twitter.com/zCIIWF9n8s
— Robbie McEwen (@mcewenrobbie) July 19, 2018
Andrew Hood and Fred Dreier contributed to this report from L’Alpe d’Huez, France. 
Read the full article at Froome endures abuse on Alpe d’Huez on VeloNews.com.