The 29-year-old German was imperious as he won easily ahead of compatriot John Degenkolb with Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen third.
New Zealand rider George Bennett has kept his spot in the top 10 for another day, the Nelson cyclist remains in 10th, 3 minutes and 53 seconds behind Froome.
After seeing Gesink, Porte, Thomas and many others crash out in the first nine days, Bennett stressed the importance of being patient and "staying on two wheels" - heeding the advice from retired pro Hayden Roulston, who said he should just follow the leaders and let them make the mistakes.
MARCEL Kittel is now toying with his sprint rivals after the hulking German steamrolled his way to a fifth stage win from 11 starts.
Under a year after signing his first professional contract Simpson finished fourth in the Road Race World Championships in Holland.
Kittel said his confidence was high after a string of victories.
"The last 20km was my best time trial but I'm not happy about today - I can be happy about my legs but not about the result".
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"Kittel was the strongest, he came from behind", Bouhanni said.
Bodnar went all out, using his time trial skills to resist the peloton's chase as long as possible, looking for the best possible aerodynamics position in the downhill leading to Pau, but he was ultimately swallowed with 250 meters left.
The British rider has an 18 second-lead over Aru, with Bardet 51 seconds off the pace.
Thankfully, Stage 12 reintroduces mountains to the Tour after three days of inaction.
"On our behalf I don't think we really want to let any people come back onto GC, so it's going to be about controlling things from the start and not allowing any of the GC guys who have lost time already to come back into the game".
It's a 214.5km Pyrenean mountain stage from Pau to Peyragudes that includes six categorised climbs, with riders expected to spend more than six hours in the saddle. The following year Simpson managed top 10 finishes in two of the most prestigious one-day classics La Flèche Wallonne and Paris-Roubaix with trademark attacking rides that, although ultimately futile, earned him many admirers.
"It was quite a nervous day in case the crosswinds really kicked off", the three-time Tour victor said.