He managed to snatch yellow from Alaphilippe by just six seconds and knows that all of France is hoping their latest national cycling hero will take back yellow during Bastille weekend.
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).
Romain Bardet said Friday he felt ashamed of his performance on the staggeringly steep La Planche des Belles Filles climb Thursday where he lost over a minute in only 800 metres.
"My task on the Tour de France was to gain experience and help Richie so that's what I'm going to do now", he said.
At the end of the day, there were no significant changes to the general classification which took its shape from the drama on La Planche des Belles Filles 24 hours earlier.
As Giulio Ciccone of Italy benefited from a stage-long breakaway to lift Julian Alaphilippe's yellow jersey from the Frenchman's shoulders, the Welshman proved his doubters wrong with a show of strength that surprised his rivals. While Thomas, Alaphilippe and local hero Thibaut Pinot, widely seen this year as a potential victor rather than a mere contender, powered clear to the finish line, they also opened clear daylight on rivals such as Quintana, Jakob Fuglsang and Mikel Landa, who paid for his earlier attack halfway up the seven kilometre climb. "I am really enjoying myself in this team, that feels like one big family to me".
Pinot, who lives about 15 kilometres from the climb, has already drawn high praise from Ineos sports director Nicolas Portal.
Better still for the defending champion was the damage done to unsafe rivals such as Romain Bardet, Porte and Vincenzo Nibali, all of whom lost more time to the Welshman.
"I will try to understand what happened". "But the Tour de France is very unusual and anything can happen", Ciccone warned, clearly unruffled by Alaphilippe's recent palmares and the support of home crowd.
Overall, Thomas climbed to fifth overall, 49 seconds behind Ciccone and leapfrogging Bernal, in sixth and now 4 seconds behind Thomas. "The plan is the same", the Italian said after the stage.
To add to his torment, Teunissen and Groenewegen are roomates on the Tour, meaning he had to spend the night with the yellow jersey in his room.
The 160.5km stage over seven categorised climbs, including the Ballon d'Alsace, the first climb ever used in the Tour, was the first real rendezvous of this year's race.
"With a block headwind, every time the TV motorbike goes in front of the peloton the speed goes up", the UAE Team Emirates rider said. "But this time I won".
Friday was a much less dramatic affair, with the longest stage of the Tour raced at relatively sedate pace as riders let their legs recover. I thought it would be more of a solid day.