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Cream rises to the top as the Tour de France leaves the Alps - Analysis

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Chris Froome (Team Sky) leads on the Alpe d'Huez

Chris Froome (Team Sky) leads on the Alpe d'Huez (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) leads Geraint Thomas in the final kilometer of l'Alpe d'Huez

Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) leads Geraint Thomas in the final kilometer of l'Alpe d'Huez (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) wins on the Alpe d'Huez

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) wins on the Alpe d'Huez (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Romain Bardet attacks

Romain Bardet attacks (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) launches an attack

Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) launches an attack (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

First we had the relative stalemate at Le Grand Bornand, before the race exploded with Team Sky's choreographed dominance on display at La Rosiere, and on Alpe d'Huez we were provided with the clearest indication yet as to who will occupy the podium places in Paris, with Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin leading the standings.

While the cream has most certainly risen to the top, and the weak have faltered, there are legitimate questions about the long-term prospects for all three of the aforementioned candidates. After three days of racing in the Alps, the Tour de France is still far from over.

While the first stage in the Alps resulted in few changes in terms of the overall standings, the cumulative fatigue from racing three days in the high mountains cannot be overlooked. One GC rider may have joked that the first day in the Alps was a rest-day but he wasn't laughing on stage 11 when he began to slip out the back of the first group of elite climbers. The first stage towards Le Grand Bornand saw only Dan Martin attempt an attack, while Julian Alaphilippe made light work of the day's break. Bob Jungels, Rigoberto Uran, Bauke Mollema, Rafal Majka and - surprisingly - Ilnur Zakarin lost time, but the majority of the GC contenders remained in contention.

General classification after stage 12

1 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 49:24:43
2 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:39
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:01:50
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:02:37
5 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:02:46
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:07
7 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:13
8 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:03:43
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:04:13
10 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 0:05:11

Analysing Thomas, Froome and Dumoulin

While Thomas leads from Froome and Dumoulin - and they are the currently the strongest riders in the race - there are legitimate questions surrounding all three.

Dumoulin has never raced back-to-back Grand Tours and has never targeted the GC at the Tour. Of course, he won the Giro at his first attempt at the maglia rosa but this is a different beast entirely. His team are respectable but far from the standard of Team Sky and Movistar, although he does have the final TT to pin his hopes on. His best ally is his consistency and he will hope that Thomas has a bad day and that he can keep Froome within touching distance. He is very much a favourite at this stage and the fact that Movistar have tried and failed could work in his favour. The racing could become less aggressive, with more breaks surviving to the line and Team Sky saving their resources. In the Pyrenees this could mean that races are determined solely by the pace on the final climb, a scenario Dumoulin would be more than happy with.

Daniel Benson is the Managing Editor at Cyclingnews. Based in the UK, he coordinates the global coverage for the website. Having joined Cyclingnews in April 2008, he has covered several Tour de France, the Spring Classics, and the London Olympic Games in 2012.

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