Giro d'Italia: Sky keep GC options open on Etna as Thomas snatches bonus seconds

Landa punctures but recovers to finish with other favourites

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) showed strong climbing form in the first major mountain test of the Giro d'Italia as he snatched a four-second time bonus on Mount Etna and moved into second on GC Tuesday.

His teammate and co-leader Mikel Landa had a tougher time of it, puncturing midway through stage 4 and then chasing hard before he made it back into the main group.

With Thomas third at the line and second overall and Landa avoiding any time losses, however, Team Sky have made it clear they are very much in contention in the Giro d'Italia. Furthermore, in a race that has done them few favours in the GC battle in the past, overcoming the race's first big hurdle will surely provide a major boost to team morale. On top of that, Thomas has shown that he has retained his strong climbing form from the Tour of the Alps, which he won overall, even if the biggest challenges are yet to come.

"It was strange," Thomas observed to reporters afterwards, on a day where Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) moved into pink but none of the main favourites lost time.

"It didn't really go ballistic, it wasn't super hard, I think with the headwind and it being the first big stage, everybody was a bit unsure and were testing each other. It was all a bit cat and mouse."

Landa was more relieved than pleased that he had got through a tough stage and a major scare midway up the final ascent. Solid teamwork when he punctured, with Sebastian Henao close by and Philip Deignan then putting in a colossal turn to pull him back into the main group of contenders, ensured that what might have been a danger moment eventually became nothing more than another hard day at the office.

"It was a very tough day, one with a lot of climbs, and it was a hard last ascent with the wind changing direction all the time. I had a lot of bad luck because I hit a stone and punctured, but fortunately, Sebastian was there, he gave me the wheel and it wasn't a problem."

Such incidents are not good for the nerves, Landa agreed, but he said he knew that the climb "was long and there would be time to get back on. I paid for the effort, it was tough following the rhythm, but eventually, I got through." 

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