Geraint Thomas’ title defence is back on track after a thrilling end to the sixth stage of the Tour de France.
The welshman delivered a major statement of intent in the defence of his Tour de France crown as he pulled clear of young team-mate Egan Bernal on the final brutal slopes of La Planche des Belles Filles.
He was fourth over the line in the first mountain stage of the competition. In a gruelling final climb, Thomas beat yellow jersey holder, Julian Alaphilippe, to the finish.
As Dylan Teuns won stage six from the breakaway and young Italian Giulio Ciccone snatched the yellow jersey off the shoulders of Julian Alaphilippe, it was the sight of Thomas defying his own predictions and bursting clear of the main contenders at the last which caught the eye.
Much had been made of the five seconds Bernal picked up due to a momentary lapse from Thomas in the finale of stage three in Epernay, and that gap was only expected to grow as gradients hit 24 per cent and the surface turned to gravel.
The seconds Thomas gained were vital given the question marks over his form and today’s result means the former Tour de France winner jumped from seventh to fifth.
Ciccone now leads by six seconds from Alaphilippe, with Teuns up to third, 32 seconds down.
Jumbo-Visma’s George Bennett slots into fourth, two seconds ahead of Thomas who is 49 seconds off yellow.
In the Tour’s three previous visits to this mountain the man in yellow at the end of the day has worn it in Paris at the end of the race, but Thomas’ late dig suggests this edition has many more twists to come.