Team Ineos co-leader Geraint Thomas was in good spirits ahead of the start of stage 9 of the Tour de France. Emerging from the team bus in Saint-Étienne, Thomas was greeted by a throng of reporters and was happy to take the time to talk though his crash towards the end of stage 8.
The Welshman went down at the base of the final climb of the day, 13 kilometres from the line. It was EF Education First's Michael Woods who hit the ground first, and a number of Ineos riders couldn't avoid the mini pile-up that ensued.
Thomas crashed head-first over the handlebars, landing on teammate Gianni Moscon's bike, leaving the Pinarello frame snapped in half while luckily avoiding any broken bones himself.
"It could've been a lot worse for sure," Thomas said. "We managed to make the best of the situation."
With the help of a push start from Moscon and Michał Kwiatkowski, and later pulls from Wout Poels, Dylan Van Baarle and Jonathan Castroviejo, the team mounted a furious chase, bringing Thomas back to the peloton by the top of the Côte de Jaillere.
"Just everyone kind of knew what to do," he said about the immediate aftermath of the crash. "I had a feeling of like ‘oh, this isn't ideal', knowing how far there was to go and how close it was to the last climb, but fortunately I had all the guys around me.
"I was struggling with my shorts stuck on Gianni's bike somewhere, and Kwiatkowski was straight to picking up my bike.
"We got [the chain] on really quick, and I jumped on and them him and Gianni pushed me off. I still had three guys, so it was really good. Everyone did it instantly and saved me."
Kwiatkowski, who was conducting an interview nearby, confirmed that the team's reaction to the crash was instinctual.
When asked about how the crash – his second in the space of four weeks after crashing out of the Tour de Suisse – would affect his racing going forwards, Thomas was dismissive of the suggestion that Ineos would alter their positioning heading into climbs or descents.
"I don't think [we will]," he said. "It's just one of those things. These crashes happen, and it's not like Woods was trying to crash. It just happens.
"It seems to happen a lot to me though. But like I said, I've been fortunate that there's no real damage."
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