After losing over half an hour on the first Alpine stage 8 of this year’s Tour de France – and with it any hope of winning – Geraint Thomas admitted that this year’s race had been draining on his mental strength as much as his legs.
The Welshman came into the Tour de France with realistic aims of at least finishing on the podium but the 2018 winner crashed hard on stage 3 and dislocated his shoulder. It briefly looked as though his entire race was over but he received medical treatment at the side of the road and finished the stage.
However, after a lukewarm time trial on stage 5, he was momentarily distanced on the intermediate stage 7. That was a warning of things to come with the 35-year-old one of the many riders who lost contact with the yellow jersey group early on stage 8 to Le Grand Bornand.
While Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) won the stage and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) delivered a devastating performance that would catapult him into the yellow jersey, Thomas was left floundering and forced to ride in the grupetto and finish 174th on the stage and alongside another member of the walking wounded crew, Primož Roglič (Jumbo Visma) – 35 minutes down.
That results dropped Thomas down to 45th overall, 36:03 behind Pogačar, and while there was no current hint that he would withdraw, Thomas admitted that his body simply wasn’t in the right space to compete.
"The crash has taken a lot more out of me than I thought,” he said after stage 8. “You always get through some days and talk yourself into it, you’ll get better, but yeah it was a super hard stage, a hard start, I was on the back foot straight away and that was it.
"It was a wet day, hard roads, and they were racing in front all day, so I had no chance to get back or even come back from a bad patch.”
Thomas missed out on Tour de France selection in 2020 and crashed out of the Giro d’Italia after just three days of racing. However, he came into this year’s Tour de France with some of his best form in recent years.
He finished third in the Volta a Catalunya in March and then backed that up with a fine win in the Tour of Romandie a month later. He was third and won a stage in the Critérium du Dauphiné, but like the rest of the Ineos Grenadiers teams, he has been chasing the race ever since the Tour left Brest a week ago.
With his GC ambitions over, Thomas and his team will need to decide whether the Welshman is best served remaining in the race or if abandoning and recovering in time of the Tokyo Olympics Games is the best direction to take.
For now, Thomas has a second day in the Alps to come, before Monday’s all-important rest day arrives. It probably can’t come soon enough.
“After a lot of hard work since January, to finish 33 minutes down with the sprinters, it’s not really what I wanted. It’s tough on the head as much as anything else. There have been a lot of sacrifices to get here. I got through it anyway and tomorrow is another day."
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