Stage 8 of the Tour de France was arguably the most challenging day of racing so far at the French Grand Tour in 2017 for Team Sky. The chaotic start to the day's stage from Dole to Station des Rousses saw several GC aspirants try to steal a march on Sky, but the British team proved equal and controlled affairs.
There were still stressful moments for Sky as Chris Froome overcooked a corner and Geraint Thomas spectacularly crashed. Both riders escaped without injury and ended the day as they started, first and second overall.
The crash wasn't the first of the Tour for 31-year-old Thomas who added that like his previous falls, it wasn't as a bad as the TV coverage suggested.
"I went back for bottles and had just made it back to the front. The boys had gone in a bit hot and I obviously I just looked back and I was a second late in breaking," said Thomas. "Then I was off the road and had the choice of going down and crashing into the woods or going into the hay bale. I chose the hay and I flipped over the bars but luckily I was back up and fine."
"It's the same scab as a few days ago, so it looks worse than it is. When I was on the bike it felt fine," he added.
With stage 8 a day for the breakaway artists to make hay, a tactically flexible Sky sent riders up the road and also controlled the tempo from the peloton. Having riders ahead on the road helped in Sky's efforts to control the race as Thomas explained, adding it was still a hard day in the saddle and one which will have consequences at some point in the next two weeks.
"It was a solid day but it was one of those days when we're riding hard on the front on the climbs, which makes it hard for everyone. Luckily we had a strong group to control and we had two guys up the road. We had numbers for the finish too," Thomas said.
"Latour was up there and he's a strong young guy and there were a few other guys at around two minutes. We waned to ride a strong tempo in order to keep them in check."
With stage 9 regarded as the 'hardest' of the Tour in 2017, Thomas isn;t expect any let up in the racing but will be hoping for a crash-free Sunday and another visit to the podium for yellow jersey holder Froome.
"It's going to be full gas again. From the start it's going to be tough," he said.