Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) was in the perfect position to win stage 4 and move into the overall lead at the Tour de Romandie when he dramatically crashed during a two-up sprint against Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) just metres away from the finish line at the summit of Thyon.
In a post-race interview with CyclingPro, Thomas said that his right hand slipped off the handlebars as he tried to change gears mid-sprint, causing him to crash.
"I had no feeling whatsoever in my hands and I tried to change gear but instead I just lost the bars," he said.
"It’s so frustrating because even if I had just stayed in that gear and came second place … but to deck it there, I feel like a right whopper."
While Thomas was on the ground, Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën) had passed him for second place, but he managed to get up and cross the line in third, 21 seconds behind Woods.
Asked if he was physically injured in the bizarre crash, Thomas said, "no," but he admitted that he was feeling "emotional" and "frustrated" after experiencing such a bad luck in the final.
"I’m fine, it’s more about frustration of such a hard day and to lose time like that at the end, it’s really frustrating," Thomas said.
"I just want to get into a hot shower now. I just need to have a shower and settle down and not be so emotional… and then think about tomorrow."
It was a miserable day of racing at the Tour de Romandie, with cold temperatures along with rain and fog that forced race officials to neutralised the first three kiometres off of the descent of the Suen climb - the penultimate ascent.
Thomas, who started they day just 14 seconds behind overnight race leader Marc Soer (Movistar), was part of a select GC group that entered the final 10km of the 21km climb to Thyon. Also in the mix were former race leader Marc Soler (Movistar), Woods, O'Connor, Lucas Hamilton (BikeExchange), Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck-QuickStep), and his Ineos Grenadiers teammate Richie Porte.
As they picked up the last of the initial breakaway riders, Woods attacked but Thomas caught up to the Canadian and then drove the pace for the final two kilometres of the ascent, looking to maximize his GC gains.
Thomas and Woods raced toward the finish line. Inside the last hundred metres, Woods started his sprint, at which point Thomas rose from the saddle, but his right hand suddenly slipped from the hoods, his front wheel turned and slipped on the wet surface, and he crumpled to the floor.
Thomas now sits 11 seconds behind Woods in the overall classification ahead of Sunday's stage 5 final time trial, a 16.9km course in Fribourg. Given his strength against the clock, Thomas will be favourite to take overall victory, but his mishap means he's now chasing yellow rather than defending it.
"I don’t know what the gap is but I’ll try to make up that time again," Thomas said.
"I still have something to play for. I just wanted to win the stage. I just wanted to win something. It’s annoying for that to happen at the end."
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