A day after his storming Montefalco time trial ride in the Giro d'Italia to claw back the time he lost in the stage 9 'moto' accident, Sky's Geraint Thomas shipped 48 seconds to his main GC rivals on the aggressive stage to Bagno di Romagna.
Thomas started the day in 11th place overall, aiming to limit any losses, but with the time loss he is again on the back foot in his bid for the overall. The Welshman explained the vigorous stage through the Apennines was a day full of 'suffering' and all things considered, could have been worse.
"I'm going to play it day-by-day and see how I get through the next two days and see how I am and after that I'll have a clearer picture. There's a couple of easy days coming up which will hopefully play to my advantage," Thomas said.
"I was suffering all day and I had a really sore knee as well and I just had to finish as best I could. I felt worse than yesterday, it was only an hour on Monday whereas today was four and a half hours and I was suffering all day."
Thomas maintained contact with the front group of GC men as the race came alive in the final third, but as Vincenzo Nibali tested his legs on on the Mount Fumaiolo climb the Sky man couldn't respond. Fellow GC aspirant Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) also struggled on the climb and linked up with Thomas for the descent into Bagno di Romagna. Despite the best efforts of Sky teammate Phil Deignan, Thomas and co couldn't close the gap and crossed the line in a ten-man group 2:25 minutes down on stage winner Omar Fraile of Dimension Data.
"I was with [Steven] Kruijswijk We were riding quite well together, but in front they were really going for it as well," Thomas explained. "Then Phil [Deignan] came back and helped a bit at the end which was really good."
Sky's chief sport Director Dario Cioni added to Thomas' comments, explaining his delight in the fighting spirit displayed since the high-speed stage 9 crash.
"Crashing at 50kph is naturally going to take its toll and yesterday's time trial and today's stage were both very hard days," said Cioni. "It's been an incredibly brave and impressive performance for Geraint to come through both days."
Meanwhile, Sky's co-GC leader Mikel Landa started the stage on the front ground as he infiltrated the day's breakaway before jumping off the front with Fraile. The Spaniard though had nothing left in the tank at the final climb and suffered a 'disastrous day', finishing over 13 minutes down on his former breakaway companion. Landa now sits 51st overall as Sky's third best rider.
Sky and Thomas will have two days expected to suit a bunch sprint finish before the return of the mountains on stage 14 with the Oropa summit finish.