After a blistering start to his cobbled campaign, Geraint Thomas went into the Tour of Flanders as the race favourite for many. However, the Team Sky rider was left licking his wounds as he crossed the line in 14th place and finished almost a minute down on the winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).
Despite the pre-race expectation, Thomas says that he didn’t have the power to chase down the race winning move or the subsequent attack by Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). “I just didn’t have it today and I was obviously OK but just lacked that bit at the end,” a clearly dejected Thomas told Cyclingnews as he made his way back to the team bus.
“Van Avermaet went on the Paterberg and (Peter) Sagan went with him and I didn’t have the legs to hold them in those last 10 metres. It was a good move by him and it just meant that the guys behind could sit on for a bit.”
Team Sky were ever present at the front of the group throughout the race - although perhaps too often and too early as they lacked numbers in the finale. There were some problems for the British squad earlier on in the day as Bradley Wiggins suffered a crash and changed his bike twice, forcing him to chase back on and lose vital energy. Wiggins made it back but was eventually dropped with just under 50 kilometres remaining. Luke Rowe was the last of the Team Sky riders to pull off on the Kwaremont, leaving Thomas as he tried to attack with Stybar.
“I think we can be proud of how we committed and I’m just a bit disappointed that I couldn’t finish it off for the boys because they did a real good job all day,” Thomas said. “Everyone committed 100 per cent and it’s a shame that I couldn’t get a result for the boys. I was just legless at the end with all the jumping around. It just wasn’t ideal. Whenever I moved, it felt like everyone was just straight on me. It’s to be expected.”
Much has been said of the absence of Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep), and how it would make the race a much more evenly matched affair. It did that but it also appeared to kill the race with the various crashes involving Shimano neutral service the main talking point. There were a few tentative moves off the front but it wasn’t until Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) struck out on the Kruisberg, with Kristoff in his wheel, we the race saw any of the favourites make a decisive move.
Behind them, however, there was no decision making going on as the group of favourites looked to each other to mount a challenge. “Nobody would work. It’s typical for a big race like this. It’s all leaders in the group and everyone wants to do as little as possible, especially when (Zdenek) Stybar’s got a man up front. They’re not going to ride and it disrupts it a bit, everyone’s thinking about them sitting on,” said Thomas.
“I think people weren’t going to give me a gap and it was a nice move by Terpstra and Kristoff really. It’s a shame that nobody really wanted to chase. A few guys came towards the end but the gap was already 20 seconds by then.”
Thomas will now rest up ahead of next weekend’s Paris-Roubaix where Wiggins will make his final appearance for the team. When asked if they could pull something out of the bag the usually upbeat and talkative Thomas had little to say.
“Hopefully, but I can’t really face thinking about it yet.”
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