A full 24 hours after losing the lead at Tirreno-Adriatico, Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) was still coming to terms with how stage 4 unfolded. The Welshman slipped his chain at the worst possible moment – just as the GC contenders began their final assault on the race's only mountain finish.
With the jersey eventually lost and crucial time conceded, Thomas came into Sunday's stage with the bit between his teeth. On the final climb of stage 5 to Filottrano Thomas briefly responded when eventual stage winner Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) launched his bid for glory. Thomas eventually sat up and reverted to the role of super domestique, leading out Michal Kwiatkowski, who picked up third and enough bonus seconds to wrestle the race lead from overnight leader Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing).
"I'm certainly still grieving a bit. I don't know what the stages are of grief, but I'm still pretty angry," Thomas told Cyclingnews when asked about the events and how they played on stage 4.
A day later and Thomas had moved up a place to fourth overall after Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) crashed twice and fell out of the top 10. With 39 seconds between him and Kwiatkowski, the overall win is out of reach, even with an individual time trial to come on the final stage. A podium spot, however, is still possible with Mikel Landa (Movistar) six seconds ahead in third, and Caruso second overall, 26 seconds up on Thomas.
"Maybe third?" Thomas replied when asked about his GC prospects. "Kelderman crashed and he's out of the GC, which is bad luck for him, but hopefully I can jump Landa. It's 26 seconds to Caruso and it was around 15 or 16 last year in the TT. That's one hell of an ask. We'll go for it and see what happens."
On stage 5, Thomas attempted to match Yates, but when the Mitchelton rider jumped with a small group that included Thomas, and then again with 3.8km to go, no one could follow.
"When Yates went I just didn't quite have the legs to go with him," Thomas said. "I knew that if I could stay with him I might have got an advantage going over that first part of the climb and then onto the flatter section. Unfortunately, I just didn't have the legs on the steep bit. He was super strong and then I just tried to give Kwiatkowski a bit of a lead out because I knew that with bonus seconds he could take the jersey, which he has. So, it's been decent."
With the final time trial to come on Tuesday, Thomas will be hoping to end this phase of his season on a high. From Tirreno-Adriatico he heads back to Monaco before a short trip to recon Paris-Roubaix. Then it's back up to altitude in Tenerife. By then Thomas should at least reach the final stage of grief. Acceptance.
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