Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) has suggested that winning the Tour de France is Team Sky’s top priority, and they're not at the race to win a popularity contest. This came after another press conference in which the maillot jaune was asked a number of questions relating to Team Sky receiving boos from small pockets of fans along the route
At one point in his post-stage press conference, Thomas was asked if he felt he was paying for the errors and mistakes of others at Team Sky, both past, and present. The question came 24 hours after Bradley Wiggins appeared on television and threw fuel on the fire in relation to Team Sky, the Select Committee's DCMS report that was published in March of this year, and the Jiffy-bag affair.
Thomas stated that he had not seen or read the comments from his former teammate and that although he and Team Sky were receiving boos from a minority of fans at this year's Tour de France, it did not affect him.
"I don't know what he said actually," the maillot jaune said during his press conference when asked about Wiggins' remarks.
"It's not a nice situation is it? For me, it's the highlight of my career and a massive honor and privilege to be wearing the jersey. To have such an incredible race so far, yes there is a bit of negativity around which isn't nice, but at the end of the day you need to stay strong in your head and crack on."
Thomas then went on to add that winning was the main priority, echoing an old stance that the Tour de France was not a popularity contest.
"The way I see it, I'd rather be in this jersey and having the race of my life and getting booed and whatever than maybe being 30 and getting dropped on the first climb and everyone cheering me on. It is what it is. I'm enjoying it still."
It has been interesting to watch Thomas' demeanor develop in his post-race press conference at this year's Tour. He has made his answers slightly shorter as the race has gone and used clichés with greater volume. "Day by day" is a frequent staple in his repertoire. So too is the small-but-noticeable move to place his microphone back on the table after each answer - almost as a reflex in the same manner in which Nadal bounces the ball a certain number of times in order to set himself before he serves.
"We'd love to have everyone love us, but I don't think it's something that we've done, or especially me," he said.
When asked about the negative reaction from some fans, he replied, "But it's just the way it is. You'd have to ask the public why. Maybe it's how we're perceived in the French media. Maybe it's a question for some of you guys."
In terms of the race, the stage to Carcassonne told us nothing new in terms of the battle for GC. As one DS told Cyclingnews in the morning, '160 riders could go up the road, and as long the top 10 stayed behind them, then Team Sky would be happy to team time trial to the finish'. And so it proved with a large break once again going clear and Magnus Cort winning Astana's second consecutive stage of this year's race.
Monday will see the race remain in Carcassonne for the Tour's second rest day. Team Sky's morning press conference will be the main attraction for the media, with both Thomas and Froome expected to be on show. Whether Dave Brailsford attends is unclear, but after the emergence of the disqualification of Gianni Moscon from the race for violent conduct, the event is expected to be highly attended.
As for the race, Thomas remains in control of his own destiny. The Pyrenees will determine his fate. At Mende, he more than held his own, but the Pyrenees are on the horizon and the Welshman made clear that he would not relinquish his lead without a fight.
"I'd have to have a bad day," he said. "I wouldn't want to give it up for any money. It's the Tour de France, it's the yellow jersey. It's a massive honor just to be wearing. I'd love to be wearing it for as long as possible, but as I've said from the start, 'Who knows what's around the corner?' I'll take each day as it comes.
"It's nice to know that Froome is second, because it takes a bit of pressure off. Every day is a bonus for me. I'm feeling good. So far so good. Yesterday at Mende was good for the confidence, especially a climb like that. It was short and punchy, so I'll take a lot of confidence."
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