"He lost time because of the pain," Sky's sports director Dario Cioni told Cyclingnews after the stage, "It was a very fast finale. Hopefully, he'll be better in the coming days."
Having crashed badly on the Blockhaus climb and ridden up the ascent injured, but then bounced back in the time trial on Tuesday with a second place on the stage, Thomas now lies 15th overall, 6:46 down on overall leader Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb). Thomas already lost 48 seconds on Wednesday's much hillier stage, saying afterwards, "I was suffering all day and I had a really sore knee as well and I just had to finish as best I could."
Cioni told Cyclingnews on Thursday evening that the latest setback changes Team Sky's plans with Thomas. Rather than simply focusing on the Oropa summit finish on Saturday as the next big test for Thomas' GC ambitions and using the two flatter stages this week for him to get over his injuries, Sky will now be looking at how Thomas gets through Friday's stage first.
"Either way, we'll keep fighting, we never give up," Cioni concluded.
Thomas had told Cyclingnews on Thursday morning that he was hoping that the two flat stages before Oropa would help his recovery process and that he'd paid a price for his crashes on the Blockhaus on Wednesday's stage through the mountains.
"Wednesday was a hard day, I didn't feel very good from the start, and I was sore and aching, with a bad knee. It was just about trying to get through it as best I could, obviously I lost a bit of time at the end."
Thomas added that he did not know much about Saturday's climb, just that "it's not too long, the first bit is not that steep, it's really only seven kilometres of a decent climb. But for sure there will be gaps, Quintana's got to get back four and a half minutes before the final time trial, so for sure the GC contenders will be aggressive."
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Discussing Thomas' current situation on Thursday morning, prior to the latest time loss, Cioni pointed out that the Welshman had been badly mauled on the Blockhaus stage and that the consequences were never going to be short-term.
"He went down and he didn't go down softly. Plus he crashed twice, at the beginning as well, but it was more the second one that counted. The guys are at the limit, it's the second week of racing and their bodies are not machines.
"So there's race stress for him plus crash stress, which means he's carrying a bit of an extra load compared to most people. But if you're not on form you couldn't do what he did in the time trial."
As for Landa, and his roller-coaster performance in the Apennines on stage 11, taking part in the early break for nearly 70 kilometres before losing 13 minutes, on Thursday morning Cioni described the Basque star's racing style as that of an artist.
"He's got a huge natural talent for racing, he always looks very comfortable, but as an artist, you can't control him 100 percent, you just have to let him go. Last time [on stage 11] it didn't work out, I'm pretty confident it'll work out next time."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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