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Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) lost some ground to the yellow jersey on a dramatic stage 11 of the Tour de France but still closed in on an overall podium spot.
Wednesday’s big Alpine stage saw Jumbo-Visma really take the yellow jersey battle to Tadej Pogačar with attacks beginning on the foothills of the Col du Galibier with over 60 kilometers of racing to go. It would ultimately wind up with Jones Vingegaard dropping Pogačar on the Col du Granon and taking over the yellow jersey.
Thomas finished fourth atop the Col du Granon at 1:38 behind Vingegaard. He is now at 2:26 behind the yellow jersey but he is only four seconds off the final podium spot, which is being occupied by Pogačar after his dramatic crack.
“I was just trying to get to the top as quick as I could,” Thomas said of the final climb of the Col du Granon. “Obviously, Jumbo were on one today. An incredible ride by them today. They had numbers and they used it.
“We expected it but over the Galibier it was all in ones and twos, it was crazy. Then, it obviously came back together, and then on that climb [the Col du Granon] it blew up again and it was just a grind.”
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Thomas had a front seat ticket to the big GC showdown as one of the few riders that could hang onto the coattails of the top two riders.
The Welshman was part of an elite four-man group that included Pogačar, Vingegaard, and Primož Roglič that jumped clear of the other top contenders on the Galibier.
Though he was dropped before the top of the climb, he was eventually able to make it back on and was still with the lead group of GC contenders when Vingegaard made his yellow grabbing move inside the final five kilometers.
As he had been doing all day, he didn’t respond immediately to the acceleration and set his own pace, eventually dropping Pogačar with just over four kilometers remaining.
Thomas was by far the strongest of the Ineos Grenadiers on Wednesday with Adam Yates dropping back one place to sixth overall after being passed by Romain Bardet and Nairo Quintana, who both mounted major attacks on the final climb, while overtaking Lennard Kämna, who dropped out of the top-20.
Thomas Pidcock, who had been holding his own in the mountain stages so far, struggled to match the top riders over the Galibier and the Granon. Despite losing touch early on, he fought on to minimize his losses. He would drop out of the top 10 but still sits in 11th place overall.