A few aggressive probes by Pogacar that came to nothing. Vingegaard in yellow happy to follow the wheel. The two men went up the Alpe d’Huez together and finished together, no day of revenge for Pogacar, no time clawed back.
The skeletal Dane looks more and more like Chris Froome in his prime, minus the ungainly style on the bike and the habit of staring at his power meter. His first stage in the maillot jaune went as smoothly as can be considering the exhausting task of climbing three hors category mountains. His lead remains at a comfy 2:20.
Jumbo Visma used their collective strength to keep all the top GC riders under control. They set a tempo that appeared almost too intense to sustain — in fact, Vingegaard was down to just Sepp Kuss for a significant stretch of the Alpe. The American rider was dropped several times yet still managed to bridge back up and proceed to the front to pace his captain. He more than earned his salary on a day when a rejuvenated Pogacar hoped to reverse his time losses.
Pogacar said he learned a painful lesson about attacking too hard and often and marking both Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic yesterday on the Col du Galibier. Once the ascent of the Col du Granon began, he realized he was one mountain short on energy. He won’t make that mistake ever again.
If there was a second winner on stage 12 — besides stage winner Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers), it had to be teammate and 2018 Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas. Healthy and back on form, he has ridden an astute and well-calibrated race so far, drawing on his experience and knowledge. While Romain Bardet (Team DSM) had his troubles today, Thomas was able to stick with Pogacar and Vingegaard all the way to the line, moving one position past the Frenchman into third on GC. A consistent ride in the Pyrenees may well put him on the third step of the podium.
For the rest of the best, it was a battle against fatigue up the Alpe d’Huez. David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ) and Enric Mas (Team Movistar) faced some dark moments but fought hard to limit the damage. They are now 7th and 9th on GC. Adam Yates (INEOS Grenadiers) rode a steady race to secure 5th on the classification while Nairo Quintana (Arkéa Samsic) still hangs tough at 6th but almost four minutes behind.
And so the major mountains of the Alps are now behind us. If the Pyrenees are anywhere near as riveting and dramatic, then we will witness one of the greatest Tours in memory. Allez, mes amis!