The end result, however, was the same as most recent Tours - domination from Team Sky.
Thomas now leads by one minute 25 seconds from Froome, with Dumoulin a further 19 seconds back in third place.
Movistar have three options in Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa, but their conservative tactics are likely to do little to open up the race.
But Sky kept their powder dry until Thomas launched his move.
It could be his Sky team mate Geraint Thomas, who is the best-placed of the GC (general classification) riders after safely going through the first nine stages, including the much-feared cobbles-peppered route on Sunday, which was fatal to Porte's hopes.
Thomas, however, said there would be no problem.
Watch every minute of the Tour de France live and on-demand on the Eurosport Player, with six additional camera feeds and uninterrupted, ad-free coverage. For me it's an unknown. It's just a bit of an unknown for me to race over three weeks. For me, whatever happens now it is a super successful Tour.
"We're still here to try and win the race, whatever way that is. It's the ideal scenario at the moment and long may it continue". Only Belgian great Eddy Merckx has won more stage wins on the Tour, with 34 stage victories to his name.
Dumoulin, the time trial world champion, is Sky's closest challenger. "But he has no references in a three-week race so we can always speculate on that", said Lavenu.
Inside the final kilometre, Thomas kicked again and swept past Nieve with a couple of hundred metres remaining to the line as the Spaniard faded. We were expecting attacks.
"I think I timed my effort perfectly, I'm improving". The 33-year-old won his first Tour stage in 2008 and his last in 2016.
"I saw a massive occasion to take the yellow jersey". "To do it two years in a row is really nice".
Julian Alaphilippe won enough climbing points to retain the polka dot jersey after leading at the top of the first climb of the day to Montée de Bisanne, but fell away on the second ascent to Col du Pré. "Watching the Tour de France from another view", he wrote. I committed, got across to Dumoulin and then sat on.
Several riders, including Gilbert, were dropped quickly into the climb. "That was such a mark of respect for the Tour".