French rider Julian Alaphilippe did everything he could to hold onto the leader's yellow jersey for a fourth day. "I thought the steep climbs weren't my cup of tea", said Thomas. I mean, look at me, I came to the Tour de France to gain some experience and to support Richie Porte in the climbing stages, and here I am, wearing the yellow.
The day also signalled the end of Romain Bardet's hopes after the Frenchman, twice a podium finisher on the Tour, lost over a minute and now lags more than two minutes behind Thomas.
Pinot, who lives about 15 kilometres from the climb, has already drawn high praise from Ineos sports director Nicolas Portal. It's one of those climbs where you have to be patient. "He's areal contender for the overall win". "He's the best rider there is for Grand Tours and stage races, so he'll be great teacher for me, I'm lucky to be with him next season". However, Thomas is separated by only 35 seconds from Adam Yates, with Bernal, Pinot, Michael Woods, Rigoberto Uran, and Fuglsang all sandwiched between them.
"And now I'm here answering questions with this yellow jersey, it feels odd", he said with an incredulous smile.
Ciccone, victor of the King of the Mountains prize in the 2019, is however unlikely to continue that tradition.
Bookies slashed Thomas from highs of 3/1 (+300) into no bigger than even-money favourite with William Hill and Betway to land back-to-back Tour de France victories, the 33-year-old now generally priced at odds-on for the overall win, some online betting sites offering a mere 4/5 (-125).
"I'm looking forwards to a quiet couple of stages now, we're all really calm after a good day yesterday", said 22-year-old Bernal. "The plan is the same", the Italian said after the stage.
Less than a week ago in Brussels, Dylan Groenewegen sat dejected in the middle of a road, his body language oozing disappointment as he was attended by the Tour de France doctor.
"The first day wasn't what I expected but now I'm back on top", said the Jumbo-Visma man on the finish line on the banks of the Soane river on a baking afternoon. "But this time I won".
In the longest stage of the year from Belfort to Chalon-sur-Saone, Groenewegen was adjudged the first to have crossed the line through photo finish, ahead of Australia's Caleb Ewan and sprint green jersey owner Peter Sagan of Slovakia.