Thomas takes stage 11 win and yellow jersey in Tour de France

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He leads teammate Froome by one minute 25 seconds in the overall standings.

Team Sky's Thomas, who won the Criterium du Dauphine last month, attacked near the end of the 11th stage.

Defending champion Chris Froome's Team Sky controlled the pace and prevented attacks as headwinds blew in the ascent of the col de la Colombiere.

Kittel and Renshaw both finished just under 45 minutes behind stage victor Geraint Thomas of Team Sky but still failed to make the cut.

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

Froome is 59 seconds further back and 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali trails the Briton by six seconds. For me it's an unknown.

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"I knew there was a good chance". For me, it's already a success. "It's the ideal scenario at the moment and long may it continue".

Froome is attempting to match the record of five Tour victories shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

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

The Australian fractured his collarbone in an early crash and abandoned the race for the second year in a row. "We're going to have to keep a close eye on him", Froome said, looking ahead to the race's only individual time trial in the penultimate stage.

Belgium's Greg van Avermaet was part of the breakaway group with Alaphilippe and finished fourth to maintain his grip on the yellow jersey.

Inside the final kilometre, Thomas kicked again and swept past Nieve with a couple of hundred metres remaining to the line as the Spaniard faded. "When they go, it is never nice to see them all riding away but we had confidence in each other and we rode really well".

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Twice podium finisher Romain Bardet, hoping to become the first Frenchman to win the Tour since Bernard Hinault in 1985, has suffered from bad luck with four ill-timed punctures, including three in Sunday's stage to Roubaix.

It is the second consecutive year Renshaw has fallen foul of the time cut, having also been timed out last year on stage nine.

Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) claimed a stirring stage win and the polka dot jersey with a ride demonstrating true grit to finish ahead of Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) and Rein Taaramae (Direct Energie).

Alaphilippe increased his lead over Taaramäe in the descent before the final climb of the day, Col de la Colombiere, and with 20 km to go the French rider was 20 seconds in front.

When is the stage 12 of the Tour de France? While Valverde quickly dropped back, Dumoulin kept up his pace and was only surpassed by Thomas. "That was such a mark of respect for the Tour".

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