Van Avermaet defends yellow as Alaphilippe takes Stage 10

Chris Froome 'optimistic' as Tour de France heads for the mountains

Geraint Thomas of Team Sky and Great Britain is the new leader of the Tour de France after yellow jersey wearer Greg Van Avermaet dropped out of contention.

Alejandro Valverde of Movistar moved into third overall at 3:10 off the pace.

Many expected Thomas to wait for Froome to catch him and Dumoulin, but with Nieve in view, he powered on again and kicked into the lead inside the final 400 metres to take the stage win.

The major question now may concern the dynamics between Thomas and Froome within Sky. Four-time champion Froome, however, is the more experienced rider, having already won all three grand tours. For me now, whatever happens, it's been a successful Tour, it's been an unbelievable feeling to win the stage and take the jersey, I'm super happy with that.

"This is where it gets hard, as we hit first mountain stage", said the former Sky leader on Eurosport's The Bradley Wiggins Show.

Cavendish, in danger throughout most of the day from being picked up by the race's notorious "broom wagon", crossed the line 1hr 05min 33sec behind compatriot Thomas. Froomey knows how to win a three-week race.




Frenchman Bardet, however, is now lagging 2:58 off the pace ahead of Thursday's 12th stage ending up the iconic Alpe d'Huez.

That sees Froome move up to second in the general classification, one minute and 25 seconds behind, with Dumoulin third, a further 19 seconds back. "Sometimes this happens, and this time, I think it's the best decision for me to recover and to recover well".

"It is unreal - I didn't expect it", he said.

"Then it will depend on the situation and what's going on in the race".

After going up the beyond-category ascents to Montee de Bisanne and Col du Pre, plus the second-category Cormet de Roselend, the stage concluded with the unprecedented and lengthy 17.6-kilometre climb to La Rosiere - a ski resort linked to La Thuile in the Italian region of Valle d'Aosta. Last year, he led the Tour for four days, but while sitting second overall he crashed in stage 9 and abandoned. "If Geraint stays where he is and takes the yellow jersey they've got a real problem on their hands".

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