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Thomas strikes again, but booed

L’ALPE D’HUEZ, France (AFP) – Geraint Thomas became the first yellow jersey wearer since disgraced Lance Armstrong to triumph on the legendary Alpe d’Huez after a thrilling finale to a punishing Tour de France 12th stage on Thursday.

But the Welshman and teammate Chris Froome were met by a chorus of boos and jeers at the finish as Team Sky’s domination of the race continued.

Thomas took the lead of the race on Wednesday with an impressive victory atop La Rosiere on what was the second day in the Alps.

In a thrilling finale to the 175.5 km race from Bourg Saint Maurice, the former track rider beat Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) by two seconds in a sprint to the line, with French climbing specialist Romain Bardet (AG2R) in third, to become the first Briton to triumph atop the legendary climb.

“Not even in my wildest dreams did I believe I would win at Alpe d’Huez, in the yellow jersey,” said Thomas, who now leads four-time champion Froome by 1min 39sec in the overall standings. Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro d’Italia champion, is third at 1:50.

”It’s just mental. I just can’t believe I won the stage. It was just a case of following (teammate) Egan (Bernal),” added Thomas.
Yet hopes of soaking up their success were dashed when fans booed the Team Sky riders as they crossed the finish line.

Earlier, Froome narrowly avoided disaster when he was struck by a fan at the roadside. It was unclear whether the fan’s intention was to give a well-meaning slap, but there were also reports Froome was spat at.

But Thomas added: ”People have their opinions, and that’s fine.

”As long as they don’t affect the race that’s the main thing.”

After claiming the top two positions in the overall standings Wednesday, Sky’s rivals were intent on redressing the balance on the third and final day in the Alps.