Stage 11 of the Tour de France from Albertville to La Rosiere saw the first major shake-up of the general classification. Geraint Thomas moved into the yellow jersey after almost a week of trying, with his teammate Chris Froome right behind him, while some could only watch as their overall ambitions went up in smoke.
With the Alpe d'Huez set to change things once again on Thursday, Cyclingnews takes a look at how the GC is shaping up.
Team Sky dominate
There can be little doubt that Team Sky were the big winners of the day with Thomas taking the stage win by more than 20 seconds over Tom Dumoulin and assuming a relatively comfortable lead in the overall classification. His team leader, Froome finished with Dumoulin, having caught the Dutchman on the final climb. That was enough to move the defending champion from sixth to second overall and just 1:25 behind Thomas.
Team Sky have full command of the overall classification as the race passes its midway point. However, they do now have something of a conundrum to deal with in terms of the yellow jersey.
Will we see the yellow jersey having to work for Froome or will he get protected status for the time being? Last season, Thomas headed into the first mountain stage with the yellow on his back but the gaps were closer and it only took a small slip back from Thomas to hand the yellow jersey over to Froome. This year is very different, Thomas has a sizeable lead and he's in the strongest form he has ever been at a Tour de France.
Will we see Froome attack his own teammate? Froome ensured that he kept his own losses to Thomas at a minimum on the road to La Rosiere, and is within striking distance of his teammate. If Froome does attack, will Thomas be allowed to chase - if he is able to - or will Team Sky tell him to hold station?
Behind Thomas and Froome, there is just a minute and a half separating the rest of the top 10, with Dumoulin leading the charge. The Team Sunweb rider lost just 20 seconds to Thomas and now sits in third place overall at 1:44 to the Welshman. Dumoulin looked strong with his long-range attack, which was enough to keep most of the main contenders at bay, but the parcours played to his advantage. While there were some steep ramps on the final ascent, it was generally a steady grind to the top, allowing him to use his power to stay away.
Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) was another rider to come out of the stage with a confidence boost. It was Martin that initiated the move that saw Froome ride away from most of the other GC contenders. Though he was ultimately distanced, it wasn't by much and he crossed the line seven seconds back on Froome and Dumoulin. Thanks to some time losses earlier in the race, due to the team time trial and a crash on stage 8, Martin is sat just inside the top 10 at 3:16 behind Thomas.
Vincenzo Nibali looms 30 seconds behind Dumoulin in the standings, and within touching distance of a podium place. He had been a relatively quiet presence in the peloton until now, with his team's poor team time trial performance on stage 3 setting him back. However, he set Franco Pellizotti to work on the Cormet de Roselend following Valverde's attack. His hope, he said, was to see if anyone was struggling but he wasted a man with no results.
Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk sit together on the standings right behind Nibali with just 17 seconds separating the pair. On paper, Kruijswijk is the leader but that status is not as hard and fast as it is at Team Sky. Roglic gained time on Kruijswijk on the climb to La Rosiere, though, if he can continue to do that in the third week remains to be seen.
Movistar were the animators of stage 11, but they came away with comparatively little. Quintana managed to finish with Nibali, Roglic and Romain Bardet, but he still lost almost a minute to Thomas and is now over three minutes behind the yellow jersey. Two places ahead of him is Mikel Landa, who shipped 1:47 on Thomas on the final climb. The Roubaix crash is still affecting him and he could lose yet more time if it doesn't recover soon. Alejandro Valverde all but said goodbye to his chances at a podium with his doomed long-range attack, and he now lies just outside of the top 10.
Bardet came into the stage with plenty of time to make up and he added 59 seconds to that coming home in the Quintana group. He is almost three minutes back on the yellow. It wasn't for want of trying and we'll surely see Bardet on the attack again. The podium is still within reach but he will need to make up time ahead of the penultimate day time trial.
Over and out
As well as being the making of some riders, stage 11 put a pin in the ambitions of some riders. Spread across a minute, and sitting just outside the top 10 are Jakob Fuglsang, Ilnur Zakarin, Bob Jungels and Adam Yates - whose teammate Mikel Nieve has overtaken him thanks to his breakaway effort. All is not lost for them, a top 10 or even a top five could still be on the cards if they can turn things around.
Look a little further down the list and you'll see Rafal Majka and Bauke Mollema in 22nd and 23rd respectively. Both riders crashed during the Roubaix stage and have struggled since the race hit the mountains, losing over 13 minutes on the yellow jersey by the end of stage 11.
Perhaps the biggest loser of the day was Rigoberto Uran, who plummeted out of the general classification battle. The Colombian's bid was already on the rocks, but it is completely submerged at more than half an hour down. Uran has had problems with his knee and back since crashing on Sunday. Uran will have to see if there are any improvements in his condition, but a stage win is his only hope now.
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Born in Ireland to a cycling family and later moved to the Isle of Man, so there was no surprise when I got into the sport. Studied sports journalism at university before going on to do a Masters in sports broadcast. After university I spent three months interning at Eurosport, where I covered the Tour de France. In 2012 I started at Procycling Magazine, before becoming the deputy editor of Procycling Week. I then joined Cyclingnews, in December 2013.
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