Tour de France 2015: Joaquim Rodriguez takes brilliant individual victory as Chris Froome maintains lead with Geraint Thomas's help

Froome maintained his lead over his General Classification rivals after a demanding 195km stage in the Pyrenees

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The Independent Online

Chris Froome fended off numerous attacks in maintaining his commanding lead on Thursday's final stage in the Pyrenees.

The 30-year-old's Team Sky squad, with Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas to the fore, successfully nullified attempted attacks by Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana as Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) won stage 12 to Plateau de Beille.

The stage began in 35C heat at the start in Lannemezan, but conditions on the 195-kilometres route became challenging, with torrential rain falling on the final climb and thunder clapping overhead.

Contador, Nibali and Quintana made their moves within the space of a few minutes on the brutal 15.8km finishing ascent, but Porte and then Thomas reeled them in.

Froome then stretched his legs and next followed an attack by Quintana's Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde.

Froome crossed six minutes 47 seconds behind Rodriguez, who soloed to his second win of the race, following his triumph on stage three to Mur de Huy, in 10th place alongside the main protagonists.

Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) remained 2:52 behind in second place and Quintana third, 3:09 adrift.

Valverde remained fourth, 3:58 behind, Thomas fifth, 4:03 back, and Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) one second further behind in sixth.

Defending champion Nibali (Astana) stayed 7:47 adrift despite appearing likely to lose contact.

World champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) had seemed to be performing under-par early in the race, but was prominent until the day's final climb, when he was caught and overtaken by Rodriguez.

Kwiatkowski has been linked with a move to Team Sky for the 2016 season, although UCI rules prohibit discussion of transfers until August 1.

His team-mate Mark Cavendish has a slim chance of a 27th Tour stage win on Friday's bumpy 198.5km stage from Muret to Rodez, but a breakaway could prevail once again as the race traverses east towards the Alps.

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