Tom Pidcock makes history on Alpe d’Huez with mesmerising masterclass

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Tom Pidcock - AP

Tom Pidcock – AP

Tom Pidcock said he had “bigger ambitions” at the Tour de France in the future after winning the queen stage of cycling’s biggest race on Thursday with one of the most mesmerising individual performances in the sport’s recent history.

The 22-year-old’s solo win on Alpe d’Huez – the most iconic climb in cycling – saw him become its youngest ever winner. And he did it in some style, riding clear of his four breakaway companions – among them a revitalised Chris Froome – on the lower slopes of the Alpe.

Picking his way through the hordes, the spectators dressed as Beefeaters and the smoke flares, Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) carved his name in history to win by 48 seconds from Louis Meintjes (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux) with Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) third at 2:06.

On any other day, Froome’s wonderful comeback performance, following his near fatal crash in 2019, would have been the story of the day. But not on this day.

It was not just the way Pidcock finished it off, climbing the Alpe’s famous 21 hairpins like a mountain goat, it was the way he descended off the Galibier earlier in the stage, to bridge up to the break.

The way he leaned into every turn, at times sweeping around the outside of other riders, his balance perfect, his tyres seemingly glued to the asphalt, will live long in the memory.

It was one of the great masterclasses in descending, one of cycling’s most thrilling disciplines, and it allowed Pidcock and Froome – a notable descender himself, but one for whom Pidcock had to wait on occasion – to join the early escapees up the road. Together, they were able to carve out a six-minute advantage by the time they reach the Alpe, which allowed them to fight for the win.

Afterwards, he struggled to put into words what he had just done. “I can’t explain it,” Pidcock said, of negotiating Alpe d’Huez’s famous crush of fans. “You have to just basically pray that everyone’s going to  move out your way. It was the most ridiculous experience ever. To ride up Alpe d’Huez, probably one of the most iconic, if not the most iconic finish in cycling… at the head of the race? Yeah, that’s one of the best experiences of my life I think.”

The fact that he said “one of the best” experiences, rather than the best experience, was instructive. Pidcock is hugely ambitious. He actually ranked this win second behind his Olympic mountain bike gold last summer, but ahead of his cyclocross world title which he picked up in Arkansas over the winter.

“Yeah, I mean, I’ve won a stage of the Tour this year so I’m pretty satisfied. But I’m ambitious. I’m here to learn. I’ve learnt a hell of a lot. But yeah, I compare myself to [Tadej] Pogacar, to Wout [van Aert], these guys. I mean, they’re both older than me and more experienced. So yeah. But I am ambitious. And I think I have bigger ambitions in this race in the future for sure after this experience.”

Tom Pidcock powers through the crowds on Alpe d'Huez - EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCKTom Pidcock powers through the crowds on Alpe d'Huez - EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCK

Tom Pidcock powers through the crowds on Alpe d’Huez – EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCK

He will surely fight for the yellow jersey one day, if he decides to target it. What is already clear is that he is a polymath in the same mould as those other riders he mentioned. Pidcock even showed off his basketball skills at the start of the final climb, managing to throw his bidon into a nearby bin for three points while on the move.

To cap it all, he gave a great press conference performance too. Asked to explain his descending prowess, Pidcock attributed it to years of commuting to school off road.

“I grew up riding my bike,” he said. “I rode to school every day. I always took a detour through the woods. You know, drifting through the woods in the mud. I’d come home and my uniform was all dirty.

“I guess I’ve just become very used to riding a bike and handling it in situations where it’s on the limit of control. I’ve a very good understanding of my bike as well. The tyre grip, and everything like that. I guess it kind of comes a bit naturally.”

What a race this is turning into. After the fireworks on Wednesday, when Pogacar was worked over by Jonas Vingegaard and his Jumbo-Visma heavies, losing his yellow jersey, the Slovenian did his best to hit back on Thursday.

Pogacar attacked Vingegaard more than once on the final slopes before they called a truce, although accelerations did have the effect of dropping Romain Bardet (DSM), meaning Geraint Thomas rose one place to third overall.

“Another incredible day for the team,” tweeted the Welshman, the only previous Briton to win on Alpe d’Huez, on Thursday night. “This [Tour de France] gets better & better.”

Pidcock makes Tour history: As it happened. . .

05:30 PM

‘That was one of my best experiences in cycling’

“Not bad that, is it?”  said a typically understated Tom Pidcock in his post-race interview with Seb Piquet, the voice of Radio Tour.

“I guess it’s made my Tour de France. Even if nothing else happens and I get dropped every day now I don’t care. A stage win in my first Tour, not bad…

Tom Pidcock - GETTY IMAGESTom Pidcock - GETTY IMAGES

Tom Pidcock – GETTY IMAGES

Tom Pidcock - EPATom Pidcock - EPA

Tom Pidcock – EPA

“That was certainly one of my best experiences in cycling. It’s unreal when you’re literally slaloming through people’s flags, fists and God knows what else. You can’t experience that anywhere else other than the Alpe d’Huez in the Tour de France.”

Asked how he felt riding with Chris Froome, Pidcock added: “It was pretty nice getting across there with him. We worked well together. He’s a legend and I just beat him up the Alpe d’Huez. Maybe he’s not has fast as he once was but he’s still good, isn’t he?”

05:19 PM

Thomas back to third overall

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) led maillot jaune Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) over the line, with Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) in third. As a result, the Welshman leapfrogged Romain Bardet (DSM) into third on general classification. Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers), meanwhile, lost some time to Vingegaard, but moved up to fifth on general classification, while stage winner Tom Pidcock climbed up to eighth in the overall standings.

05:14 PM

Pidcock wins on Alpe d’Huez!

Oh my, what a lad. Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) attacked from the peloton before bridging over to the breakaway following some demon descending. It was on the steep slopes of the Alpe d’Huez, however, where the 22-year-old made history by becoming the youngest man since Lucho Herrera (23) in 1984 to win on the most famous climb in world cycling. Pidcock is not the future of British cycling, he is the now and is a brilliant advert for the sport.

Tom Pidcock produced a ride for the ages  -  REUTERSTom Pidcock produced a ride for the ages  -  REUTERS

Tom Pidcock produced a ride for the ages – REUTERS

Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux ) is second, while Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) did, unquestionably, his best ride since that career-threatening crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2019 to take third.

Trawling through my notes, here’s an unpublished Q&A I did with Pidcock ahead of his move to Ineos Grenadiers in 2021. Hopefully not too much has changed and some of this will may be of interest?

05:13 PM

900 metres to go

Tom Pidcock is going to do this. Tom Pidcock is going to win on Alpe d’Huez. Tom Pidcock is about to write his name into Tour de France folklore. What a ride son, what a ride.

05:12 PM

1.2km to go – Pogacar attacks again!

But Jonas Vingegaard is more than a match for him.

05:11 PM

1.5km to go

Sepp Kuss is back on the front riding for Jonas Vingegaard, Tadej Pogacar is at third wheel ahead of Geraint Thomas at fourth. That quartet, though, are 3min 36sec adrift of Tom Pidcock who is about to take the first WorldTour win of his career – probably worth remembering that he is still only a second year neo-pro.

05:09 PM

2.5km to go

Geraint Thomas has managed to claw his way back and  close the gap on Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar. At the front of the race, Thomas’ team-mate Tom Pidcock is flying and leads by 37sec. At 22 he is minutes away from becoming the youngest winner of a Tour de France stage on Alpe d’Huez, and all on his race debut. What a talent.

05:07 PM

Pogacar attacks!

The defending champion has launched himself. But Jonas Vingegaard is more than a match and is straight onto his wheel. As a result of that massive injection in pace, Geraint Thomas and Enric Mas are dropped.

05:05 PM

3.5km to go

Tom Pidcock’s lead over Louis Meintjes is holding at 33sec, Chris Froome is at 1min 20sec – then the maillot jaune, Pogacar, Thomas, Kuss and Mas are at 3min 39sec.

05:04 PM

4km to go

Geraint Thomas is sat on the wheel of Tadej Pogacar who, in turn, is tucked in behind race leader Jonas Vingegaard, but Adam Yates is struggling and has lost the wheels of the main protagonists – that also includes Enric Mas.

05:02 PM

4.3km to go

Sepp Kuss winds the pace up at the front of the maillot jaune’s group. As a result of the fierce pace being set, Romain Bardet is dropped and is on his own. The French are having a terrible day. By contrast, Tom Pidcock’s lead has grown to almost 30sec.

05:00 PM

5km to go

Smooth as silk, out of his saddle the 22-year-old from Leeds is dancing up this Alpe like a dragonfly.

04:59 PM

5.5km to go

Nairo Quintana is the latest general classification to have been dropped, then David Gaudu pops. Romain Bardet is holding his own and is there with all the big boys. At the front of the stage, however, Tom Pidcock now leads Louis Meintjes by 23sec, while Chris Froome is another 30sec or so down the road.

04:57 PM

6.5km to go

Tom Pidcock rides through a tunnel of cheering spectators, possibly riding into Tour de France folklore here this afternoon. What a performance this is.

04:55 PM

7km to go

Tom Pidcock pulls out another 5sec on  Louis Meintjes, the maillot jaune is another 4min 50sec down the road.

04:53 PM

7.5km to go

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) has popped, as has Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe). Back on the front, Tom Pidcock has increased his advantage over Louis Meintjes to 11sec. Worth remembering that only one Briton – Geraint Thomas – has won a stage on the Alpe d’Huez.

04:51 PM

8km to go

Louis Meintjes is around 2sec down on Tom Pidcock. The Ineos Grenadiers rider will act as a fine carrot for the South African. Back in the reduced bunch, Wout van Aert has ridden to a halt.

04:49 PM

9km to go

Tom Pidcock is out of his saddle, staring down the road towards Louis Meintjes who is riding at a steady pace, gradually reeling the Ineos Grenadiers man back in. Chris Froome also appears to be holding his own, but Giulio Ciccone has cracked.

04:47 PM

9.5km to go

Tom Pidcock peers over his right shoulder, staring back towards Louis Meintjes. The South African is around 4sec down on the Yorkshireman. Chris Froome, meanwhile, is holding his own at third. Jumbo-Visma still lead the peloton, Tadej Pogacar riding off the left-hand shoulders of the Dutch squad as he takes on some liquids.

04:45 PM

10km to go

Tom Pidcock gains a handful of bike lengths on Louis Meintjes, Chris Froome is third some distance back while Giulio Ciccone is further down the road. Neilson Powless looks cooked, but there is a long way to go yet.

04:43 PM

10.5km to go

Chris Froome rolls through on the front of the breakaway. The Wout van Aert-powered peloton has eaten around 30sec into the leaders’ advantage. And Tom Pidcock attacks!

04:42 PM

11km to go

Tadej Pogacar has three team-mates alongside him, the UAE Team Emirates boys tucked in behind Jumbo-Visma’s worker bees. Back at the front of the race, Neilson Powless has regained contact with the stage leaders.

04:40 PM

11.8km to go

Neilson Powless has lost the rear wheel of Chris Froome, the veteran who himself is riding at fourth wheel.

04:38 PM

12.3km to go

Tom Pidcock rides into a corner and he is cheered loudly – in fact, all of the riders are being cheered. Tiesj Benoot is drilling it on the front of the peloton as they fly towards the start of the Alpe, next to take over for Jumbo-Visma is Wout van Aert. Their deficit on the breakaway is a midge below six minutes.

04:35 PM

12.8km to go

Giulio Ciccone and Louis Meintjes press on, it looks as if the two climbers are looking to assume control. But Tom Pidcock is able to match them, pedal stroke for pedal stroke. Plenty of looking around from Ciccone who, I imagine, would be a terrible poker player.

04:32 PM

13.8km to go | onto the Alpe we go

Here we go. Giulio Ciccone leads the way onto the official climb, before Tom Pidcock rolls through. The opening two kilometres are very tough.

alpealpe

alpe

04:31 PM

Pogacar is feeling the heat

Tadej Pogacar has just been spotted joking with the TV cameras. The Slovenian even managed to share a few words with the watching world, saying it was ‘a bit hot, hey?’. Unfortunately for Pogacar, he is known for struggling in the heat so that may not have been the smartest thing to say.

04:25 PM

20km to go

Former breakaway rider Nelson Oliveira is scooped up by the galloping bunch. Meanwhile, Tom Pidcock, Chris Froome et al have increased their lead to a shade over six minutes. I’m starting to believe that this could happen… but worth remembering that Jumbo-Visma are a Dutch team and Alpe d’Huez is nicknamed Dutch Mountain. They will, surely, want to do something today, but have they left it too late?

04:23 PM

21.5km to go

Tom Pidcock takes a bidon from a team car, presumably filled with cold water as he doused himself down with it before tossing the empty battle back to his directeur sportif.

04:21 PM

22.5km to go

Tiesj Benoot, Wout van Aert and Sepp Kuss are protecting Jonas Vingegaard on the front of the peloton, with DSM and Romain Bardet tucked in behind. Other than a few brief glimpses, I have hardly seen Tadej Pogacar all day. The breakaway’s advantage has grown out to 5min 55sec – touch-and-go if that will be enough to land the stage win.

04:17 PM

25km to go

Huge crowds have been gathering on the slopes of the Alpe d’Huez for days. Colleague Tom Cary arrived there this morning and he said there was much fancy dress, booze and Eurodance beats – and that was just in the media zone (he didn’t say the last bit). The breakaway is around 10km from the start of the ascent of the mythical climb which is great for a race like the Tour de France, but a bit of an ugly climb for amateurs – there are so many prettier mountains to tackle in the Alps.

Fans on Alpe d'Huez - GETTY IMAGESFans on Alpe d'Huez - GETTY IMAGES

Fans on Alpe d’Huez – GETTY IMAGES

04:14 PM

30km to go

Tiesj Benoot continues to pull on the front of the peloton, but Tom Pidcock is not slowing. The Briton leads by 5min 24sec and he has, as expected, been caught by his breakaway colleagues now that the road has flattened out.

04:11 PM

32km to go

Tom Pidcock touches 100km/h on the descent, putting the rest of the breakaway under pressure. Louis Meintjes vis struggling to stay in contact, but once the road kicks up again he should be able to close the gap.

04:08 PM

35km to go

Tiesj Benoot, the Belgian with the most arched back in cycling, rolls along on the front of the peloton as a small split opens up a few wheels back. Back at the pointy end of the race, Chris Froome – yes the Chris Froome – takes a turn on the front as the gap to the peloton grows out to 5min 20sec.

04:05 PM

38.5km to go

The road kicks up, allowing the flyweight Louis Meintjes to float to the front. The peloton is at almost five minutes now.

04:03 PM

39km to go

Brief moment of concern for Giulio Ciccone who gets a little too close to Tom Pidcock than he ought to. The mountain bike Olympic champion flicks his bike to get a better line, catching the Italian roadie unawares.

04:01 PM

40km to go

Once again, it is Tom Pidcock who leads the way down the mountain. Neilson Powless follows though there is a small gap, then Louis Meintjes is third wheel, Chris Froome fourth, while Giulio Ciccone comes up the rear.

03:56 PM

47km to go

Wout van Aert, who is thankfully dressed in the traditional black shorts-green jersey combination for this classic stage – as opposed to the horrific flying legumes skinsuit he has sported for the flatter stages – leads the maillot jaune off the descent of the Croix de Fer. The breakaway’s lead has dropped to 4min 40sec.

03:47 PM

54.5km to go

Giulio Ciccone rolls off the front before going over the summit of the Croix de Fer to add another 20 points to his tally in the mountains classification. Neilson Powless is second, with Louis Meintjes in third. The maillot jaune follows at 4min 45sec​. Long descent to follow.

03:41 PM

56km to go

Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) is the latest rider to be dropped by the peloton, while Aurélien Paret-Peintre (Ag2r-Citroën) is also labouring. Jumbo-Visma are putting a real demonstration of strength on the front of the race. Presumably in an effort to keep the pace high and deter any attacks, rather than trying to chase down Tom Pidcock. The breakaway are nearing the summit.

03:37 PM

57km to go

Chris Froome, incredibly, is still in the leading group. His riding style has not improved and he still looks like a frog on a skateboard, but what he is doing today is proving effective. Tom Pidcock, by contrast, is bristling.

03:34 PM

58km to go

Ineos Grenadiers team-mates Jonathan Castroviejo and Luke Rowe are dropped by the peloton, which now has Nathan Van Hooydonck riding hrad on the front. The pace has increased resulting in the breakaway’s lead dropping to just over six minutes.

03:32 PM

59km to go

Out of his saddle, Tom Pidcock is looking like he is trying to cause another split. But he may be getting a little ahead of himself here today, I know the attacks started flowing 60km from the line yesterday, but Jumbo-Visma had an entire team at their disposal – Pidcock is on his own.

03:28 PM

60km to go

Just over 5km from the summit of the Croix de Fer and Tom Pidcock presses down on those cranks, causing a split in the breakaway.​ Nelson Oliveira and Sebastian Schönberger are the first to crack, then Anthony Perez is the next to go. Louis Meintjes, however, is all over Pidcock. Giulio Ciccone, Neilson Powless and Chris Froome follow in the wheels.

03:25 PM

61km to go

Christophe Laporte continues on the front of the peloton, the Frenchman towing along a phalanx of Jumbo-Visma team-mates. Laporte has, I think, done pretty much all of the heavy lifting for Jonas Vingegaard today and so the Dane’s team-mates will, in theory, be as fresh as possible for when the action kicks off later.

03:17 PM

64km to go

With each turn he takes on the front, Tom Pidcock increases the pace. Anthony Perez, however, does not appear too pleased and gives the precociously talented young rider a bit of a death stare as the Frenchman pulls through. The breakaway’s advantage, meanwhile, has dropped to 6min 30sec around 9.5km from the summit.

03:06 PM

69.5km to go

The breakaway is just under 15km from the summit of the Croix de Fer and they lead the maillot jaune by 7min 2sec. All very calm in both groups at the moment, but I suspect things may change on the approach to Alpe d’Huez. Louis Meintjes is, in theory, in the best position of those in the breakaway thanks to having Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux team-mate Kobe Goossens there to lend a helping hand, but Giulio Ciccone, Tom Pidcock, Neilson Powless and Anthony Perez will be hoping to challenge also.

Breakaway - GETTY IMAGESBreakaway - GETTY IMAGES

Breakaway – GETTY IMAGES

Chris Froome, of course, is a huge name, but I’m not sure he has what it takes to launch a serious assault. Happy to be proven wrong though, what a story that would be.

02:57 PM

73.5km to go

A small split forms in the breakaway after Tom Pidcock rolls through on the front to take a turn, but it soon closes up. Their advantage over the maillot jaune has dropped to a shade over seven minutes. Chris Froome appears to be starting at his stem, it’s like 2014 all over again.

Chris Froome - GETTY IMAGESChris Froome - GETTY IMAGES

Chris Froome – GETTY IMAGES

02:49 PM

75km to go

Unsurprisingly, sprinters Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Fabio Jakobsen (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) were dropped a few minutes ago. The nine-man breakaway has increased its advantage to 7min 15sec and are just under 21km from the hors catégorie Col de la Croix de Fer. Tom Pidcock is looking very assured, tapping away with the upper half of his body barely moving, his face expressionless.

Col du Galibier  - APCol du Galibier  - AP

Col du Galibier – AP

02:39 PM

79km to go

Victor Lafay (Cofidis), the Frenchman who won a st age at last year’s Giro d’Italia, looks to be struggling at the rear of the race. His face looks very red, but Lafay’s face always looks red, but the fact that he’s trailing Aussie sprinter Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) on this climb would suggest he is not having the best Bastille Day.

Victor Lafay - APVictor Lafay - AP

Victor Lafay – AP

02:35 PM

80.5km to go

Christophe Laporte has been riding on the front of the peloton, monitoring things for Jumbo-Visma and Jonas Vingegaard.

Christophe Laporte  - GETTY IMAGESChristophe Laporte  - GETTY IMAGES

Christophe Laporte – GETTY IMAGES

It is very hot out on the road today, over 35°C! Staying hydrated, fuelled and as cools as possible in the heat of battle will be absolutely key for everybody today.

Tiesj Benoot  - GETTY IMAGESTiesj Benoot  - GETTY IMAGES

Tiesj Benoot – GETTY IMAGES

Tadej Pogacar supposedly does not enjoy the extreme heat, but he cannot afford to lose too much more time today so will have to measure his efforts a little more smartly than he did on Wednesday. The breakaway’s advantage has grown out to 6min 50sec.

02:27 PM

83km to go

The breakaway is onto the second categorised climb of the day, the hors catégorie Col de la Croix de Fer. Only 28.5km to the summit . . . The peloton trails by over six minutes.

02:17 PM

90km to go

Having showed off his descending skills, Tom Pidcock has finally been caught by the rest of the escapees, his nine-man breakaway leading the stage by 5min 20sec. The Yorkshireman, who is the highest placed rider in the general classification in the breakaway, has moved up to eighth in the virtual standings and is around three minutes away from taking the young rider’ white jersey – although if his advantage keeps on growing, the teams of Romain Bardet (DSM) and Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) may start getting twitchy and start riding on the front of the peloton in an attempt to rein him back in and protect their respective places in the overall standings.

02:07 PM

100km to go

Neilson Powless rolled off the front of the breakaway a few minutes ago, but once again Tom Pidcock is giving a demonstration in how to descend and caught the American before riding straight through him. I cannot emphasise how good he is at going down these steep mountains. He’s like an artist. Absolutely beautiful bike rider.

Tom PIdcock - GETTY IMAGESTom PIdcock - GETTY IMAGES

Tom PIdcock – GETTY IMAGES

02:01 PM

104.5km to go

Absolutely brilliant riding from Tom Pidcock and Chris Froome who have bridged over to the breakaway. I’ve seen Pidcock race cyclo-cross, the classics and mountain biking, but not seen him in a breakaway in a grand tour before. This is a very special performance.

Tom Pidcock - GETTY IMAGESTom Pidcock - GETTY IMAGES

Tom Pidcock – GETTY IMAGES

01:57 PM

107.5km to go

Other than Matis Louvel (Arkéa-Samsic), the early escapees have regrouped, meaning a seven-man breakaway – Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Kobe Goossens (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) and Sebastian Schönberger (B&B Hotels-KTM) – lead the stage.

01:53 PM

111km to go

Halfway down the descent of the Galibier and the road kicks up briefly, Tom Pidcock and Chris Froome – two very different generations of British cycling – are working well together and inching ever closer to stage leaders.

01:46 PM

114km to go

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) have bridged over to Anthony Perez (Cofidis), the quartet leads Tom Pidcock and Chris Froome by around a minute.

01:43 PM

117km to go

Tom Pidcock is leading Chris Froome off the long and very fast descent off the Galibier, the Ineos Grenadiers rider has gained a minute on the maillot jaune, but suspect he is either thinking about challenging for the stage here today or, possibly, playing a team role and position himself up the road in order to act as a satellite rider for later on in the stage: or both.

01:37 PM

Pidcock on the charge!

Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) has managed to slip off the front of the peloton and is giving a lesson is descending to his elder colleagues in the peloton. He is going like a demon, looking very comfortable and confident as he leans into each corner like a natural. He even managed to overtake Matis Louvel on the right while cornering to the left. Sublime riding from the young Yorkshireman.

tptp

tp

01:35 PM

Froome ‘inspired’ by former team-mate Thomas

Chris Froome, who is currently attempting to bridge over to the stage leaders, has told Telegraph Sport he has been “inspired” by Geraint Thomas’ form at this Tour de France and is “still keeping the dream alive” that, at 37, he can return to the winners’ circle in elite cycling.

Chris Froome - EPAChris Froome - EPA

Chris Froome – EPA

Frooome suffered a life-threatening crash at the Criterium du Dauphine in 2019 and has struggled to return to his previous levels since returning from the accident.

But the four-time Tour champion said the sight of Welshman Thomas mixing it with 20-somethings Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard at this Tour had given him hope that he could win again.

“I mean for sure the general level is higher [than before the accident],” Froome told Tom Cary. “There are more guys at a very competitive level now, whereas before it felt like there were only a handful of guys really who stood out. But what gives me a lot of confidence is looking around at guys who I was racing with back then. Guys like G [Geraint Thomas], for example, who are the same age as me, more or less, but yeah, still right up there performing. It’s inspiring.”

Froome, who left Ineos Grenadiers for Israel Premier-Tech in 2021, came into this Tour claiming to be “within 10-15 watts” of his title-winning form after undergoing a threshold test on the Col de la Madone. He also said he took encouragement from the fact that he had reached his target weight of 67 kilograms. Froome’s weight at the 2017 Tour, the last of his four wins, was 68 kilograms.

“I’ve seen a lot of progression these last few months,” Froome said. “Things are still improving. Sensations are still getting better. I’ve had a few little setbacks with getting a bit sick at the Dauphine [last month’s Criterium du Dauphine] and stuff.

“And I’ve been in the wars a little bit here. I’m still coughing up dust from the Roubaix stage [on Wednesday], too. The chest hasn’t been feeling great. But in terms of moving forward, I think I’m still moving in the right general direction. So I’ve still got hope and I’m keeping the dream alive.”

Froome added the Alps this week would give a more accurate gauge of his form, provided he can breathe properly.

“I just want to see where I’m at over these next few days. I haven’t really had a chance to test myself in the mountains yet. I want to see how the chest feels. I’ve been coughing a lot and struggling since Roubaix but hopefully it will clear up.”

01:33 PM

Galibier details . . .

01:29 PM

132km to go

Over the top of the Galibier goes Anthony Perez, adding 20 points to his mountains classification account.

01:27 PM

132km to go

Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) is on the march, but has the four-time Tour de France winner left it too late? He trails stage leader Anthony Perez by 1min 44sec, which may be too much.

01:25 PM

132.5km to go

There has been a couple of splits in the breakaway, Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) are in the leading group, 24sec behind Anthony Perez (Cofidis), while Kobe Goossens (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) and Sebastian Schönberger (B&B Hotels-KTM) are a little bit further back and Matis Louvel (Arkéa-Samsic) trails. Suspect they will regroup  once over the other side of the climb.

01:19 PM

135km to go

Anthony Perez has clipped off the front of the breakaway, the Frenchman is off in pursuit of a stackful of points in the mountains classification. Could he be celebrating Bastille Day by taking hold of the polka dot jersey later on this afternoon? He’s leading the stage by 18sec and is just 3km from the summit of the Galibier now.

01:14 PM

137km to go

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) joined forces with Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) before the lightweight climbers bridged over to the breakaway, but they lead the Wout van Aert-powered peloton by just 1min 22sec.

01:11 PM

138.5km to go

Wout van Aert, riding on the front of the maillot jaune’s group, reels in Thibaut Pinot‘s group. Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates) is spat out of the back of the bunch, another early blow for Tadej Pogacar.

01:09 PM

139km to go

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) is struggling to put any serious time into the peloton, which is being paced by the Jumbo-Visma boys. Guy Niv (Israel-Premier Tech) puts in an attack off the front of the maillot jaune’s group, and is followed by Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) and a handful of others.

01:00 PM

As it stands . . .

As mentioned earlier, today’s stage featured an uphill start and a six-man breakaway – Kobe Goossens (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Matis Louvel (Arkéa-Samsic), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) and Sebastian Schönberger (B&B Hotels-KTM) – is 10km from the summit of the Galibier, but only lead the peloton by 1min  44sec.

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) is attempting to bridge over and is 45sec down on the stage leaders, while Louis Meintjes and his Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux team-mate Georg Zimmermann are another 25sec or so down the road, both wanting to get over to the day’s breakaway.

07:25 AM

Hello

And welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 12 of the 109th Tour de France, the 165.5-kilometre run from

Briançon to

Alpe d’Huez.

Jonas Vingegaard - tour de france 2022 stage 12 live updates results alpe d'huez - GETTY IMAGESJonas Vingegaard - tour de france 2022 stage 12 live updates results alpe d'huez - GETTY IMAGES

Jonas Vingegaard – tour de france 2022 stage 12 live updates results alpe d’huez – GETTY IMAGES

Well, what a stage that was on Wednesday – one of the best in many years and one that brought the race back to life – where Jumbo-Visma made the most of their numbers, while defending champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), for the first time in his career, was mugged right off. But for Jonas Vingegaard to do what he did, the Dane needed the plan, the team-mates and the nerve to take it to Pogacar. It was a stage for the ages, and while Vingegaard was the big winner, others did brilliantly too: Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic), Romain Bardet (DSM) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) all impressed. Here are the highlights from a breathtaking day of racing.

As a result of Vingegaard’s stage win, the Dane, who finished second on his race debut last year, took his first maillot jaune, the leader’s yellow jersey at the Tour de France, having turned around a 39sec deficit into a 2min 16sec lead over second-placed Bardet, with the pre-race favourite Pogacar now in third spot at

2min 22sec.

After taking maximum points at the intermediate sprint before later in the day helping out his team-mates, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) extended his lead in the race for the green jersey. Barring a crash or dramatic collapse of Devon Loch proportions, such is the Belgian all-rounder’s lead, he has all but assured the points jersey.

German rider Simon Geschke (Cofidis) kept hold of the maillot à pois, or the polka dot jersey, as the leader of the mountains classification, although things are getting tight near the top and with three hors catégorie climbs featured today, there may be a big shake-up in the competition as the mountain goats come to the fore.

Pogacar, who has led the young rider classification since stage one, will be back in the white jersey after losing his yellow jersey.

So, what’s on today’s menu?

Another day, another massive mountain test. With over 4,600 metres in vertical elevation contested over three hors catégorie climbs – Col du Galibier, Col de la Croix de Fer and Alpe d’Huez – today’s stage features more climbing than any other day in the three-week race. It is a classic route, one not too dissimilar to the stage in 1986 where Bernard Hinault prevailed the day after losing his yellow jersey to La Vie Claire team-mate Greg LeMond on the Granon.

Tour de France 2022, stage 12 profile - tour de france 2022 stage 12 live updates results alpe d'huezTour de France 2022, stage 12 profile - tour de france 2022 stage 12 live updates results alpe d'huez

Tour de France 2022, stage 12 profile – tour de france 2022 stage 12 live updates results alpe d’huez

Straight from the flag, the peloton heads up, up, up towards the summit of the Galibier for the second time in as many days, but not until it has passed through the intermediate sprint in Le Monêtier-les-Bains. Today’s ascent of the Galibier may not reach the steepest of pitches, but at 33.2km it is a horrible start to what will be a tough stage, particularly coming off the back of Wednesday’s test.

Following a long, almost 50km, descent where the riders may experience flashbacks from Wednesday’s as they crest over the Télégraphe, the road will, once again, kick up towards the Croix de Fer, yet another famous junction in the Tour where riders and their supporters will be praying their legs are in good form.

Col de la Croix de Fer - tour de france 2022 stage 12 live updates results alpe d'huezCol de la Croix de Fer - tour de france 2022 stage 12 live updates results alpe d'huez

Col de la Croix de Fer – tour de france 2022 stage 12 live updates results alpe d’huez

The third and final categorised climb of the day will see the riders head of one of the most famous, but arguably ugliest, climb in Tour history. First contested in 1952 when the great and late Fausto Coppi prevailed atop Alpe d’Huez, the switchback-tastic drag up to the ski station provides the canvas on which the riders are free to express themselves, but will today be yet another masterpiece?

Alpe d'Huez - tour de france 2022 stage 12 live updates results alpe d'huezAlpe d'Huez - tour de france 2022 stage 12 live updates results alpe d'huez

Alpe d’Huez – tour de france 2022 stage 12 live updates results alpe d’huez

As mentioned, the intermediate sprint comes relatively early and so, in all likelihood, any rider looking to add to their accounts in the race for green – yes, Van Aert – will probably be on the rollers pre-stage.

And finally, the weather. . .

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