Colombian climber Egan Bernal has described teammate Geraint Thomas’ Tour de Suisse crash as 'really scary' after witnessing the Welshman crash out on stage 4. Thomas came away without any fractures or broken bones but because his head took most of the impact he was taken to hospital for immediate check-ups and abandoned the stage with roughly 30km to go.
Bernal finished the stage safely in the pack in 54th place, behind winner Elia Viviani, and the 22-year-old Paris-Nice champion has moved up to 13th overall with the difficult stages still to come.
"It was really scary because I saw that there was a really bad crash, but after, on the radio, the sports director said that he was ‘good’ so I was a bit calmer. But I was still a bit scared because the finish was dangerous," Bernal said in a post-stage video interview.
"There were a lot of cars, and that can be improved. I was just thinking about the crash. An Astana guy crashed in front of him and he couldn’t do anything. I hope that he’s good."
Thomas will now leave Switzerland but Team Ineos will monitor his health over the coming days. The Welshman passed the initial concussion tests on the roadside and at the hospital but he is set to take a few days off the bike as he fully recovers. His other injuries are superficial, with a cut above his right eye and some skin loss on his back and right arm.
The incident is the second high-profile crash Team Ineos have suffered in the last couple of weeks. Ahead of stage 4 at the Critérium du Dauphiné, four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome crashed during a recon of the individual time trial. He spent several hours on the roadside receiving medical attention before finally being airlifted to hospital. He suffered compound fractures to his right femur and elbow, as well as internal injuries, a fractured neck, and fractured ribs. He underwent an eight-hour operation and remains in hospital.
Froome will miss the Tour de France this year, although Thomas’ injuries are far less serious.
The 2018 Tour winner will miss the final five days of racing at the Tour de Suisse but he will line up in Brussels in July to defend his crown. Team Ineos have yet to decide on whether Thomas, Bernal or both riders will be given leadership duties at the Tour. Bernal was scheduled to lead the team at the Giro d’Italia but crashed and broke his collarbone days before the start.