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For a time it looked like Steven Kruijswijk had pulled off an almighty coup. His long-range attack from the breakaway caught Team Sky on the backfoot and the Dutchman started the legendary Alpe d’Huez climb with an advantage of 4:20.
It looked like enough for Kruijswijk to hold on for the stage victory, if not pull back 2:40 on GC and move into yellow. But as they’ve done so often in recent years, Team Sky rode the front at such a stifling pace that Kruijswijk’s advantage tumbled as the hairpins of Alpe d’Huez flew by.
It was a stellar raid from Kruijswijk and one that deserved more than it netted. In the end he was caught by his GC rivals with 3.5km to go.
There were attacks from other GC favourites on that final climb, not least Romain Bardet and Tom Dumoulin, but nothing could derail the Sky Train. Egan Bernal was immense, suffocating all who dared venture off the front, and the one-two punch of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas proved too good in the closing kilometres.
At day’s end it was Geraint Thomas that emerged victorious for the second stage in a row. With 12 stages complete he now leads the Tour by 1:39 ahead of Froome, with Dumoulin in third another 11 seconds back. It’s hard to see Team Sky not winning a sixth Tour in seven years, whether that be with Thomas or Froome.
For the sake of the spectacle, we can only hope that riders like Kruijswijk, Bardet and Dumoulin keep up the aggression, doing what they can to unseat Sky.