CW's British performances of 2011: No. 15
Geraint Thomas, Tour de France 2011, stage 12
Number 15: Geraint Thomas on the Tourmalet
Any British fans watching the 12th stage of the 2011 Tour de France live on television would have had their heart in their mouths more than once.
Far from being dispirited by Bradley Wiggins crashing out of the Tour, Team Sky went on the offensive.
And on the stage from Cugnaux to Luz Ardiden, Geraint Thomas got in the early break. Ahead of him were some Pyrenean giants but he climbed superbly all day.
At one stage the breakaway had gained such a lead that he was the maillot jaune virtuel, the virtual leader of the Tour de France.
But he gave his fans some nervous moments after reaching the top of the Hourquette d'Anzican. Early on the descent his tyre slipped on a corner, he locked the back wheel up and skidded off the road, crashing onto the grass verge. Fortunately he avoided plummeting any further but there's a lot of sheep and goat poo on those mountains!
He got back up, rode on and on the next corner he skidded again. This time it was because of mud on his tyres from his first off-road adventure. He went straight on instead of getting round the corner.
Undeterred, he completed the rest of the descent without a problem, then, on the lower slopes of the Tourmalet, he went clear of the rest of the break.
He led most of the way up the famous mountain, only losing the lead to Jérémy Roy near the summit. Roy went on to take the cash prize for reaching the top first.
Thomas and Roy made it to the bottom of Luz-Ardiden in the lead, although the time gap was not enough to give them a chance of winning the stage. They lasted until eight kilometres from the top.
It was a superb ride that bodes well for the future if he chooses to focus on stage races after the Olympics.
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