PHILIPPE LOPEZ/Getty Images
Geraint Thomas won Stage 12 of the 2018 Tour de France on Thursday in a controversy-filled ride—including the iconic climb of Alpe d’Huez—in which yellow jersey contender Vincenzo Nibali crashed into a fan.
Thomas beat the other favourites for the overall standings to the finish line, increasing his lead in the general classification in the process. Tom Dumoulin and Romain Bardet completed the top three, while Nibali lost a handful of seconds. He finished the stage, but retired from the race later in the evening.
Here’s a look at the provisional stage results and latest standings:
the Inner Ring @inrng
Top-10 on Stage 12 #TDF2018 https://t.co/rEHRFOBWiQ
Felix Lowe @saddleblaze
New top 10 after Thomas’s victory on Alpe d’Huez #TDF2018 https://t.co/K2wQWlozQU
Dan Martin lost almost two minutes to the leaders on the challenging Alpe d’Huez, known for its 21 hairpins. Nairo Quintana also lost ground.
Thursday’s stage marked the third consecutive day in the high mountains and the toughest yet, as the peloton faced two of the most difficult climbs in the Alps. The Col de la Madeleine came first, a monstrous ascent where the top teams were able to set a high pace and weed out the weaker riders.
LottoNL-Jumbo’s Steven Kruijswijk was part of an early attack, with Alejandro Valverde also trying his luck. Kruijswijk spent much of the day as the virtual leader, but he would be caught on the final climb.
The Col de la Croix de Fer was the next climb, another brutal and lengthy ascent, and it was here Kruijswijk placed his attack and attempted a solo ride. In the background, numerous big-name sprinters were distanced and eventually dropped out of the race, including Fernando Gaviria and Rick Zabel.
ITV Cycling @itvcycling
Sprinters whose races have been claimed by the wicked first few days of the mountains
Kruijswijk had a six-minute gap over the GC leaders at the summit of the Col de la Croix de Fer, but on the flanks of Alpe d’Huez, he stood no chance against the talented group of climbers.
Nibali was the first to attack, with Quintana taking over quickly, but the Colombian blew himself up and was dropped soon after. Things started to get a little out of control with the fans when the group passed the famous Dutch Corner, and it got much worse further up the road.
With the stage win and possible the outcome of the race on the line, one fan got much too close to the group of contenders and made contact with Nibali―bringing down the Italian just as Chris Froome tried his luck.
Viewers couldn’t believe it:
the Inner Ring @inrng
Hope the imbecile who made Nibali fall is delivered to the Bahraini authorities
Nibali himself later told Italian TV he thought it was an official motorbike that caused the crash, per Sky Sports’ Michele Merlino.
Froome didn’t hold back, but Dumoulin bridged the gap with the rest of the contenders, and the group then decided to wait for Nibali. The Dutchman was rightly praised for his actions:
Nibali seemed to recover well but still finished behind the group, and the incident happened outside of the final three kilometers, so he wasn’t automatically given the same finishing time. Given the circumstances, the Tour organisers could have changed the result, but it didn’t matter as the Italian will not race on Friday.
The final sprint saw Thomas drop everyone, pushing his lead in the GC past 90 seconds. Team-mate Froome is second, but Dumoulin―a phenomenal time trialist―sits just 11 seconds behind the Brit.
Friday’s ride to Valence will be a transition stage, with another mass sprint expected. It will give the peloton a chance to recover from three days of heavy climbing.