Geraint Thomas answered any doubts over his form for the Tour de France with a storming finish on stage six.
The defending champ was fourth on the stage to move up two places to fifth overall and leapfrog Team Ineos team-mate Egan Bernal.
Thomas finished ahead of all the main contenders for the Yellow Jersey on the strength-sapping finish to the 160.5km stage as the race hit the mountains for the first time.
The 33-year-0ld’s form had been in doubt after he crashed out of the Tour de Suisse in his final pre-Tour race.
But the Cardiff-born rider showed he is ready to defend the title with his finish as he overhauled race leader Julain Alaphilippe who had attacked from the leading pack.
“It was one of those stages when you had to be patient,” said Thomas. “When Alaphilppe went I just let him go as I was confident in my own pace.
“I was able to drive it all the way to the line although I was blowing a bit at the finish. It was tough, but I felt good.
“You are never sure about the finish and it not being my cup of tea, but I felt good.”
The finish was at La Planche des Belles Filles although the name hid a brutal climax over the final 3.5km climb including an eye-watering 24 per cent gradient in the closing metres.
Belgium’s Dylan Teuns of Bahrain-Merida won the stage by 11 seconds from Italy’s Giulio Ciccone who almost stopped as he staggered sideways at the finish such was its difficulty.
But the Trek Segafredo rider’s reward was claiming the coveted Yellow Jersey from Alaphilippe who finished two seconds behind Thomas.
Thomas is now fifth overall 49 secs behind Ciccone but four secs ahead of his teammate Bernal who slipped to sixth overall.
Stage 6 Result
1 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida 4:29:03
2 Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:11
3 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert 0:01:05
4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos 0:01:44
5 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:01:46
6 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:01:46
7 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:01:51
8 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:51
9 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:53
10 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:53
1 Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 23:14:55
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:06
3 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:32
4 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:47
5 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos 0:00:49
6 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos 0:00:53
7 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:58
8 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:01:04
9 Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First 0:01:13
10 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First 0:01:15