Tour de France: Kruijswijk secures Zwift Rider of the Day

Dutchman goes on long-range attack but caught on the slopes of Alpe d'Huez

After being on the attack for much of the day on the road to Alpe d'Huez, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) takes the Zwift Rider of the Day on stage 12 of the Tour de France. His daring 70km solo attack looked like being a stage winner until just 3km from the line.

There were a number of deserving riders for today's award - Team Sky's 21-year-old Egan Bernal working for the first 7km of l'Alpe d'Huez, fending off attacks from Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar); Geraint Thomas, also of Team Sky, winning once again in yellow; Nibali, for coming back from a collision with a moto to finish just 13 seconds down; and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) for his repeated attacking.

But rather than battling it out in the final kilometres of the day's last climb, Kruijswijk got away in the early break of the day. A strong group, it included names such as Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and polka dot jersey Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step Floors) among the 30 or so that got away.

As a break of that size is wont to do, it gradually eroded, with Alaphilippe and then Pierre Rolland (Education First-Drapac) spending time out front until Kruijswijk took over on the second monster HC climb of the day, the Col de la Croix de Fer. With a gap of 4:30 to the Movistar- and Sky-led peloton, he was alone 73km from the finish line.

Lying 6 th on GC at the day's start, he was ahead of riders like Quintana and Bardet, but still a sizeable 2:40 behind the race lead, and with Primož Roglič one place ahead of him, LottoNL-Jumbo had cards to play. The Kruijswijk card was the one they chose, with the Dutchman flying down the almost 30km descent to hold a gap of over 4 minutes by the time he reached the foot of l'Alpe d'Huez.

A stage win on the 'Dutch Mountain' - a Dutchman has won there eight times before, the last being PDM's Geert-Jan Theunisse in 1989 - would have been a career-crowner, and looked eminently possible given the advantage he had with the 14km climb ahead of him. But with the GC men flying behind, and the action erupting midway up, his time was numbered.

Eventually, Kruijswijk's hopes for a stage win on the most famous mountain in cycling came to an end 3km from the line as Team Sky's Chris Froome attacked past him. Kruijswijk is probably best known for his exploits at the 2016 Giro, where he looked a certain winner until his crash at the top of the Colle d'Agnello, just two days before the race's end. A crash didn't prove his undoing today, but he can count himself similarly unlucky to be so close to a grand prize of cycling only to lose out.

His reward for the day, which ended with a 10th place and a 53-second time loss, was limited to the combativity prize, but it was a ride that will go down as one of the most gutsy of the 2018 Tour de France.

Daniel Ostanek: After the GC drama - Bardet's attacks, Nibali's crash, Quintana dropping, Landa reeturning and so on - on the latter half of the climb, it's easy to forget about Kruijswijk and his courageous ride today. It may not have come off, but it's the kind of move we all savour in modern cycling, more so when it results in a glorious win. In the end Kruijswijk came away almost empty-handed for all his efforts, but with the Pyrenees to come next week, there will be more chances for the 31 year old to go for glory.

Reader's pick

On Wednesday's stage 11 you picked Team Sky's Geraint Thomas as your Zwift Rider of the Day. The Welshman took the stage win on the summit finish of La Rosière, riding way into the yellow jersey along with it. After attacking with 5km to go and following Tom Dumoulin's (Team Sunweb) earlier move, Thomas went solo in the final kilometres, hunting down early breakaway rider Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) in the closing metres to take the win.

You can vote for stage 12's Zwift rider of the Day below. We will announce the reader's poll winner after Friday's stage 13.

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