The hilly 16.4-kilometre test threw up a surprise victory for Astana-Premier Tech's Alexey Lutsenko, with the Kazakhstani rider beating teammate Ion Izagirre by eight seconds to claim victory. Pre-race favourite Thomas finished 10th, 23 seconds back, while teammate Richie Porte was sixth at 15 seconds.
Thomas, who won the Tour de Romandie off the back of a strong final-day time trial performance last month, said after the stage that he went out too fast – in contrast to many other contenders who improved their placings after the mid-stage checkpoint.
"I didn't lose so much that I blew my doors off," he said after the finish, looking for the positives.
"The pacing was a bit too aggressive really for what I had today, and I just felt like I was legless.
"Even going through the time check I was like 'oh, I've overdone this now'."
While the opening 7.5 kilometres to the checkpoint saw a flat start, a small rise and then a rise to the check, the final 9.5 kilometres took in more rolling terrain, including a 1.4-kilometre, 4 per cent climb to the line.
Thomas said that the latter part of the stage felt more like 'survival' for him after going through the checkpoint fastest by seven seconds at an average speed of 49 kph. The Welshman, 10 seconds up on Lutsenko after 7.5 kilometres, had shed 33 seconds to the Astana rider by the finish.
"It was just sort of survival really, just hanging on," Thomas said. "It's not the type of course where you want to be hanging on for the last 7 or 8 kilometres you know? You need to be strong there and I just did it in reverse really."
Warming down after the finish, Thomas did add, however, that he and Porte were still very much in overall contention – lying seventh and eighth overall – with three mountain stages to come on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
"Richie is still up there, though. I'm there or thereabouts, so it's still all to play for."
A hot start 🔥 and then hanging on at the end 😬@GeraintThomas86 gives an honest assessment of his TT at the #Dauphine. "Still all to play for." pic.twitter.com/Q05Q3wxmBLJune 2, 2021
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