Simon Yates reached out and grabbed a slice of Tour de France glory with victory on Thursday's stage 12 from Toulouse to Bagneres-de-Bigorre.

The 26-year-old Vuelta a Espana champion from Bury is riding the Tour to help his twin brother Adam in the general classification but when an opportunity for a stage success came his way in the Pyrenees, he did not pass it up.

"I've been saving energy until we got here in the mountains and this was the first chance to try something," said Simon, who became the 14th different Brit to win a Tour stage and completes the set with victories in all three Grand Tours.

"Normally I would be back helping Adam but I had my own chance and grabbed it with both hands."

What was only the second mountain stage of this Tour enticed a 40-man breakaway up the road, but after they crested the Col du Peyresourde, it was Simon who did much of the work to break it apart on the second of two category one climbs, the Hourquette d'Ancizan.

The Mitchelton-Scott man rode clear with Bora-Hansgrohe's Gregor Muhlberger before they were joined by Pello Bilbao of Astana on the long descent into town.

Yates looked perhaps the least likely of the three to win in a sprint given his slight frame, but he used some of his old track racing nous to attack on the way into a corner with 200 metres to go and got the power down on the final straight.

"I wasn't super confident in my own sprint," he said.

"But you never really know after such a long day how fresh the other guys are, how fast."

Simon has insisted throughout he is only here to help Adam but there was always a sense he might look for a stage or two along the way.

"There were always going to be opportunities in these sort of stages, especially when the breakaway is so big," he said.

"This is probably one of two opportunities total I will have so I was just thankful that I was able to pull it off.

"Now it's back to the day job in the coming days, looking after my brother."

Adam - seventh overall - had a beaming smile on his face as he rolled into town in the peloton some 10 minutes later.

The top of the general classification was unchanged on a day when Julian Alaphilippe was able to stay with the main contenders to retain the yellow jersey and his 72-second advantage over Geraint Thomas.