Tom Pidcock wins the historic stage of the Tour de France at Alpe d’Huez while Jonas Vingegaard takes on Tadej Pogacar

Tom Pidcock became the youngest winner of a Tour de France stage at Alpe d’Huez ahead of a rejuvenated Chris Froome, while Jonas Vingegaard defended his new status as race leader as one of cycling’s most iconic climbs delivered drama once again.

Pidcock’s first-ever WorldTour victory was spectacular amid the rowdy crowds of this stunning sports arena as 22-year-old outperformed Louis Meintjes and Froome, who were enjoying his best day on the bike since the horrific crash that threatened in 2019, to end his glittering career.

Behind, Tadej Pogacar tried to attack Vingegaard 24 hours after losing the yellow jersey to the Dane but his late digs failed to shake the jumbo Visma man and the pair came home on their bike alongside Geraint Thomas, Romain Bardet distanced himself to lose second place overall.

But the glory belonged to Thomas’ Ineos Grenadiers teammate Pidcock – an Olympic mountain bike champion, a cyclocross world champion and now a Tour stage winner – in his debut in road cycling’s biggest race to once again raise obvious questions about how far he can be in go to the sport.

Pidcock and Froome, two different generations aged 15, attacked together on the Galibier, the first climb of the 165km stage from Briancon that began to put the peloton back on the path it had come a day earlier.

After bridging an already clear seven-man breakaway, Pidcock increased the pace on the Col de la Croix de Fer to shed passengers and led a reduced group of five down the descent at speeds in excess of 100mph.

Arriving at the Alpe d’Huez, Pidcock again looked like a man in a hurry attacking with 10km to go. Meintjes and Froome reacted but gradually backed away as Pidcock showed greater strength and composure amid the torches, flags and spilled drinks of the 21 hairpins.

Pidcock rode clean for a stunning win

(AFP via Getty Images)

‘Not bad, isn’t it?’ said the Yorkshireman. “I guess it’s become my Tour de France. Even if nothing else happens and I get dropped every day now, I don’t care. A stage win on my first tour, not bad…

“That was definitely one of my best experiences in cycling. It’s surreal when you’re literally slaloming through the flags, fists and god knows what else. You can’t experience that anywhere else but in Alpe d’Huez in the Tour de France.”

Meintjes followed him home 48 seconds later, but the bigger celebration was reserved for four-time Tour Champion Froome, who came to the business end of a bike race for the first time since everything had so nearly ended for him three summers ago.

“I have no regrets,” said the 37-year-old. “Obviously I would have liked to put my hands in the air, I was trying to win the stage and I was giving absolutely everything.

“Where I’ve come from over the last three years, fighting my way back after my accident to finish third on one of the toughest stages of the Tour, I’m really happy with that.

“I don’t know where my limits are. I will keep trying to improve and hopefully get back on the winning track.”

After losing yellows in Wednesday’s fireworks on the Col du Granon, Pogacar attacked Vingegaard on the steepest sections but his digs didn’t find a crack in the Dane, while Thomas – a winner in yellows here in 2018 – stayed cool to his find way back up .

“I’m feeling good,” said Thomas, who is back in third place behind Pogacar after Bardet’s slip. “I tried not to get carried away when they jumped. Drive at a pace, accelerate, but not too much. I felt like I could have gone in the sprint at the end, but unfortunately they stuck their elbows out a bit more.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/cycling/tour-de-france-tom-pidcock-stage-12-b2123387.html Tom Pidcock wins the historic stage of the Tour de France at Alpe d’Huez while Jonas Vingegaard takes on Tadej Pogacar

Fry Electronics Team

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