Team Sky's Geraint Thomas and teammate Mikel Nieve put everything into trying to win Saturday's stage 14 at the Tour de France – the race's second day in the Alps – but were eventually caught on the final climb up to the summit finish in Risoul.
Following team leader Richie Porte's tough day during the Tour's first Alpine stage on Friday, which saw the Australian lose almost nine minutes to race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), and drop from second place to 16th overall, the British team has switched focus to trying to animate the race and go for stage wins.
“Last night, we just said that that's life, and that's sport, and we decided that we'd just get on with it,” said a tired-looking Thomas at the finish. “You can either be all depressed and ride around at the back of the peloton and do nothing for a week, or you can get stuck in and race hard. It's still the Tour de France – there's still a lot to race for. That's the attitude we've all taken.”
Thomas explained that Nieve was considered Sky's best chance for a stage victory on Saturday, so, when the breakaway formed early on in the stage, both Nieve and Thomas were part of it.
“It was a bit of a shame that we never really got a big advantage, but then I think some of the others didn't really want to ride too much, because they saw that there were two of us, and two Tinkoff-Saxo riders [Nicolas Roche and eventual stage winner Rafal Majka],” said Thomas. “But then I thought, 'Well, we're here, so we might as well try,' and so I rode on the front on the last bit of the Izoard, just to try to keep the advantage, and to give Nieve the best chance, really, to go for the win. Unfortunately, it didn't pay off, but it was good to be in the race.”
The Welshman was joined in the day's 17-man break by Orica-GreenEdge's Simon Yates – the only other British rider left in the race.
“We talked a little bit,” said Thomas. “I just told him he was doing a good job. It was good to see him up at the front, as it's now two weeks into the Tour, and he's still riding strongly, so that's really good to see.
“It feels like I've done a hell of a lot of work these past couple of weeks, and it all kind of fell apart yesterday [Friday],” Thomas continued. “But that's not anyone's fault; that's just the way it goes. Richie has worked just as hard. I'm feeling pretty shattered now; it's been a big two weeks. But we got in the break today, and we gave ourselves the best chance. There are still three more days in the Pyrenees, so I'll just get stuck in again and see what happens.”