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Thomas Pidcock celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 165.5 km 12th stage of Tour de France between Briancon and Alpe d'Huez on Thursday. Image Credit: AP

L’Alpe D’Huez, France: British rookie Tom Pidcock, riding for Ineos, showed world class skills as he won stage 12 of the Tour de France on the Bastille Day holiday on Thursday.

A daredevil descent lit the fuse for the 22-year-old’s win while an explosive acceleration on the final ascent of the Alpe d’Huez finished the job on the final day in the Alps.

Jumbo-Visma’s Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark maintained his overall lead with defending champion Tadej Pogacar and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas on his wheel.

South African Louis Meintjes was second in the stage. Chris Froome, the 36-year-old former four-time winner, was third after he joined an early escape.

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Jumbo-Visma team's Belgian rider Wout Van Aert wearing the sprinter's green jersey cycles with the pack of riders during the 12th stage. Image Credit: AFP

Pidcock first caught the escape with a breathtaking descent and then dropped them on the last Alpine climb of this 109th edition of the Tour.

The Olympic mountain-bike champion and cyclo-cross world champion’s descent displayed bravery that set him apart from the other riders.

Cutting through the forest and mud

“On the descent people did not want to risk chasing me,” said Pidcock at the finish line.

“I learnt that on my way to school cutting through the forest and the mud. My first stage win on my first tour. Not bad.

“Even if I get dropped every day now I don’t care,” added Pidcock, who climbed to eighth overall.

The British rider said it had been astonishing to ride through such big crowds. “You have to just pray that they move out of the way, but that was the best experience — box ticked.”

Pidcock’s Ineos leader Thomas praised the youngster. “He’s the second British winner here,” after his own triumph here on his way to the 2018 title. “It’s great for the team.”

Blistering Pogacar

A day after his triumph on the Col du Granon, Danish Jumbo rider Vingegaard, chaperoned by teammates, held off a blistering attack from Pogacar, who is second in the overall standings. Thomas followed them over the line and climbs to third.

“That was quite an attack from Tadej, so I was happy keeping up,” said Vingegaard.

Pogacar appeared disappointed he hadn’t been able to hurt his rivals for the title.

“I could have been better, but at least I was there. I suffered yesterday, but, hopefully, this won’t happen again,” he said after pulling on his white jersey as the top young rider.

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UAE Team Emirates' Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard in action during stage 12. Image Credit: Reuters

“I feel confident for the days ahead, I need to find a way to get a few minutes back,” said the 23-year-old Slovenian, who rides for Team UAE Emirates and who lost two teammates to Covid this week.

More catching up to do

Thomas was dropped briefly, as he was on Wednesday, before once more racing his own pace and catching up with Vingegaard and Pogacar.

“I knew it’s going be a bit stop-start,” he said in front of his team hotel at the Alpine resort.

“They are both riding really well and when they attack like that it’s not worth chasing them.”

Friday’s stage moves out of the Alps with a 192km run to Saint-Etienne with three hills but no mountains until three stages in the Pyrenees next week.