Talansky was forced to quit the tour the following day, but he’s back this summer for his third try at the race, aiming for a top-10 finish.

Asked whether he felt the race was over already, Froome said there was still a long way to go until Paris a week on Sunday. They could take bigger risks, like speeding hell for leather on downhill roads, in hopes that Froome might crash, or gang up on him, as they sought to on Thursday’s steep final ascent.

“But if I can find an independent expert to analyse, or an expert from a physiological point of view, I’m open to doing that with someone”. It was definitely a team effort in finding the right kind of speed all day.

Mainstream opinion remains divided whether Armstrong’s stunt is a genuine good deed for Thomas’s leukaemia charity or a cynical attempt to divert attention away from Froome in the Yellow Jersey.

“That’s normal, two weeks into a Grand Tour, 10 beats off my maximum when I’m going as hard as I can – for me anyway”.

“I’ve put that data out there myself in my book. And to be fair and to be honest to him, a lot of that is my fault”, Armstrong said.

There have been suggestions Team Sky are using controversial, but legal, ketones, which are said to have benefits for endurance athletes, such as by preserving energy stores and muscle while burning fat.

The stage victory by Majka, a Pole who won twice on last years Tour, provided a lift for a Tinkoff Saxo Bank team whose leader, two-time Tour victor Alberto Contador, has been struggling in this years race.

Majka presented little threat to Froome.

More Pyrenean punishment looms in Wednesday’s stage over the famed Tourmalet pass and five lesser ascents along a 188-kilometer (117-mile) loop from Pau to Cauterets in deep southern France.

One of the riders who didn’t attack Froome was American Tejay Van Garderen, who is second overall at 2min 52sec. Contador is sixth, 4:04 off the Britons pace.

Stat of the day: 6:47.

The penultimate climb of the Port de Lars tops out with 50 kilometres to go, meaning we really should not see any attacks by the main favourites on this climb.

Appropriately enough, Stage 11 took the pack into the Roman Catholic shrine town of Lourdes, made famous because of a peasant girl’s visions of the Virgin Mary over 150 years ago.

Livestock on the sunbaked, grassy mountainsides offered their own hazards for the speeding racers.

The 30-year-old Team Sky leader has always denied doping and spoken of his wish to be a spokesman for clean cycling.

But to get to the 2013 champion, Froome’s rivals must first get past his teammates.

Inevitably, though, another dominant performance on yesterday’s terrifically tough stage with four categorised climbs-a second, two firsts and an hors category to finish with-will obviously not silence the critics. But 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali slipped further behind and is now 7:47 adrift of Froome.

“For me, it was a great day, a dream, for the team it was even better”. Zakkari Dempster of the Bora-Argon 18 team after he rode in too slowly on the stage to be allowed to continue.

(AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani). Teenagers on horseback greet the riders in the breakaway group during the twelfth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 195 kilometers (121.2 miles) with start in Lannemezan and finish in Plateau de Beille, France, …