Froome is 3:21 behind Van Avermaet after recovering from a punctured tire atop the second of the stage's ascents, finishing with Thomas and most of the top contenders. "Who knows? Anything can happen to me". Bradley Wiggins suggested earlier in the week that it might cause problem if second placed Thomas went into yellow too early and although it ruffled a few feathers, tactically the former Tour de France victor was right.
"It was unbelievable. With 300 meters to go I still thought I would get second and then I saw her dying, " said Van Vleuten.
But Team Sky kept their powder dry until Thomas launched his move.
Britain's Chris Froome, rides in the pack during the eight stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 181 kilometers (112.5 miles) with start in Dreux and finish in Amiens, France, Saturday, July 14, 2018.
By the end of the 175.5km stage from Bourg-Saint-Maurice in which Sky had to chase down a long-range attack from LottoNL-Jumbo's Steven Kruiswijk, they had picked up time gaps on several rivals.
"In my eyes, Froomey is still our leader", said Thomas.
Having started the race under a cloud, former five-time victor Bernard Hinault calling for the peloton to strike if controversy-tinged Froome turned a pedal in anger, the defending champion said he has weathered the pre-race storm. "I'm going to try to chill out and enjoy it", said Thomas.
With just under 4km to go, a Froome attack was countered by Italy's former champion Vincenzo Nibali, who came crashing to the ground after a collision. It's just a bit of an unknown for me to race over three weeks.
"It is always an honour to be in yellow". Though the sight of Team Sky massed on the front of the peloton most of the day was not unexpected, the way in which he attacked with yellow on the line certainly was.
The 10th stage followed Sunday's punishing cobbled ride to Roubaix and Monday's rest day and, with a long descent to the finish, none of the top guns were in the mood to risk a long-range attack.
'Maybe if I'm still right there after [the] Alpe d'Huez [stage on Thursday], it's a bit different then.
It was the third stage win for the Quick-Step team at this Tour.
The 33-year-old, unusually, did not answer reporters' questions after the stage, speaking only via the team's website, but Thomas said: "If people don't like Sky and want to boo, that's fine".
Thomas was tucked in between Dumoulin and Bardet and they rejoined Froome as they passed under the 3km to go marker.