The frustration was evident as Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) crossed the line on the prologue of the Critérium du Dauphiné, muttering expletives under his breath. The reason for it similarly so, with his skinsuit ripped and cuts to his left hip, left elbow, and both knees.
The Team Sky rider was en route to a possible victory when he crashed with just over three kilometres to go in the 6.6-kilometre course in Valence. His teammate Michal Kwiatkowski won the day's event in a time of 7:25 and took the overall lead.
Thomas started his prologue after Kwiatkowski, and as the Pole sat in the hot seat with the benchmark for the fastest time of the day, Thomas looked to be on track to either come close to the his teammate's time, or perhaps overtake it.
However, just past the half-way mark - at the turn of the out-and-back course, Thomas slid out in a right-hand corner. He picked himself up and continued his time trail, losing more than 20 seconds and finishing 43rd.
"It was just the last fast right-hander. I thought I was going in quite steady but the front wheel just went. Even before the start we said 'it's fast, but it looks like it could be dusty, so take it easy', and I felt like I was, but obviously not," Thomas told reporters in Valence.
"I must have been going too fast to slap off, but it didn't feel any faster than the recon really to be honest. But it must have been a slightly different line, and one little stone or whatever, and that's it."
Thomas arrived at the Dauphiné after a spell of altitude training on Mount Teide, and is building towards the Tour de France in July. Despite the setback, the fact that he only lost 21 seconds - and in fact was level par with most of the GC favourites - was an indication that Thomas has come to France in fine shape.
Outside the Team Sky bus, team manager Dave Brailsford confidently said Thomas would have won the prologue had he not crashed.
"It's super frustrating because I was feeling good," Thomas said. "I guess the positive is that I didn't lose a massive amount. Compared to the other GC guys it was OK but it's easy to think 'I should have 20-odd seconds on them', but that's the way it goes. Annoying.
"I was feeling good. I was just looking to bring it home well. It's the first time I've crashed in a TT, and it's not the best time to do it, but oh well."
Despite the cuts and bruises, Thomas finished strongly and then completed a full warm-down on the turbo trainer. It seems he escaped serious injury, though it remains to be seen how the impact will affect him in the coming days, with two rolling stages preceding a team time trial and then four back-to-back mountain stages.
"Hopefully it's not too bad. Obviously, I'm going to be sore the next few days," Thomas said. "Luckily they're not the hardest days in this race, so I've just got to try and put this behind me, look forward and get though it as best we can and hopefully we can do a good TTT together."
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