Alaphilippe leaves Pyrenees in Tour lead, Thomas battles back


Fans cheer Great Britain's Simon Yates on his way to victory on Sunday's stage. (Photo: AFP)

Julian Alaphilippe dug deep to keep the overall Tour de France lead on Sunday as Simon Yates captured his second stage of this year's race and defending champion Geraint Thomas kept his title hopes alive after a late surge.

Few believed Frenchman Alaphilippe would emerge from two daunting summit finishes in the Pyrenees with the lead, but at the Foix Prat d'Albi finish he donned the yellow jersey for an astonishing 11th time as reward for his swashbuckling performances that have lit up this tour.

Thomas struggled on the final climb into the clouds, but then closed the gap on the leader to 1min 35sec, launching a late burst afer initially looking like he was going to drop precious time.

French fans could argue that Thibaut Pinot, who now stands at 1min 50sec behind Alaphilippe in fourth spot, had an argument for performance of the day after winning Saturday's stage and then leaving all the chief contenders behind him after attacking halfway up the Prat d'Albi 11km ascent.

Simon Yates also won Thursday's stage, also on a long distance breakaway, but his twin brother Adam's Tour de France chances look completely cooked as he lost time again.