Ain't no mountain high enough for Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome

The Team Sky armada sets the pace for stage winner and new overall leader Britain's Geraint Thomas second left as he rides next to Colombia's Egan Arley Bernal Gomez left during the eleventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 108.5 kilomete

And for a long while, it looked like Thomas's lead was in danger when Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk launched an audacious attack after he had squeezed into an early breakaway.

"We were expecting that", said the Welshman, who had been just three seconds off yellow for much of last week.

Froome, who finished fourth, four seconds behind, refused to talk to reporters afterward.

That was not it for Team Sky on what was a very successful day.

Stage 12 of the Tour de France has been marred by a spectator's insane clash with Chris Froome, and a former champ breaking his back.

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Fueled by previous disappointments and thoughts of his ill father watching on TV, Alaphilippe timed his break perfectly and powered to victory on the first day in the mountains, crossing the line alone, and finishing well ahead of his rivals for his first Tour win.

Dumoulin is third at 1:44, while the Spanish Movistar team's best-placed rider is Mikel Landa at 2:56, in seventh. "I'm going to try to chill out and enjoy it", said Thomas. Four-time champion Froome, however, is the more experienced rider, having already won all three grand tours.

The German, who won the Queen of the Classics in 2015, was one of three riders to jump away from the main pack 19km from the line and he was the fastest in the final sprint, beating overall race leader Greg van Avermaet of Belgium.

Meanwhile, Alaphilippe (26) delivered his first career Tour stage win after moving off the front of the break at the summit of the Col de Romme, 28.5km from home. Bradley Wiggins suggested earlier in the week that it might cause problem if second placed Thomas went into yellow too early and although it ruffled a few feathers, tactically the former Tour de France victor was right.

"Both riders were spat at, Froome was shoved, shorts were dropped in their direction", reports Jeremy Whittle in The Guardian, "yet it was Vincenzo Nibali who ended up prone on the tarmac, after tangling with spectators, as the leaders were blinded by smoke from flares".

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Van Avermaet escaped in an early breakaway and held on when he was left all alone to struggle up the final of four Alpine passes.

Froome attacked as soon as Bardet punctured for the last time just at the end of the last cobbled sector, but the Frenchman, who at some points was lagging 40 seconds behind, benefited from huge pulls by his team mates Tony Gallopin and Oliver Naesen.

Thomas increased his gap over his fellow Brit on general classification to 1min 39sec, with Dumoulin still third chipping a few seconds off Froome. That will be followed by Stage 12's ascent of the legendary Alpe d'Huez. Some guys might sit here and give some PR bull**** but I just say how it is with me and that's how it is.

"I don't know how many kilometers I was alone - phew, it was a bit risky but I tried to up the pace and I really profited".

The racers were seen powering past the rising flames and jet-black fumes during the stage in Brittany.

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