For the second year running, Sky Procycling's Geraint Thomas has pulled on the white jersey for the best young rider at the Tour de France but the Welshman admits that it was a proposition he hadn't given proper thought to.
Thomas finished 6th on this Saturday's opening stage to Mont des Alouettes, six seconds behind stage winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto). The Sky fastman was caught up in the second crash which splintered the peloton in the lead into the finish, 2.2 kilometres out but no damage was done.
It's likely that Thomas will go one better at the end of today, should Sky succeed in the team time trial around Les Essarts, with white morphing into yellow.
"It was every man for himself from there really," Thomas said following the finish.
"I had the legs to move up a bit and get stuck in. I've been feeling good and we'll give it a good go tomorrow too. We're in there with a real fighting chance.
"I could get used to it. It's always nice wearing this (the white jersey). "It was a nice surprise as well because I hadn't really thought about it."
Thomas wore the white jersey between stages three and five in 2010, before relinquishing it to eventual winner, Andy Schleck.
Yates relieved following Wiggins scare
Thomas was alongside Sky's General Classification hope Bradley Wiggins when the second crash occurred. It was only the rule stating that crashes taking place within the last three kilometres which saved Wiggins from really beginning his Tour campaign on the back foot, with defending champion Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) losing one minute, fourteen seconds to his rivals around seven kilometres earlier.
"When you consider what happened to other teams then we've come out of it very well," remarked Sky's sports director Sean Yates. "No one crashed, no one lost time although there was a little scare there for Wiggins.
"So that was a bit disconcerting but it turned out okay."
Yates went on to describe the 2011 Tour's opening day as "a super nervous" one.
"That final few kilometres was a nightmare for a GC man in that it was fast, downhill with a tailwind into a bunch of roundabouts.
"The Tour happens but once a year and when it suddenly comes back round you remember - it's a big deal. The roads on the coast have lots of traffic calming measures and for bike racing it is a nightmare, hence the number of crashes.
"Yet the one with 10k to go was on a perfectly straight bit of road where an Astana guy clipped a spectator. Everyone is standing close and you are screaming down trying to move up. We are car number 20, it's pretty hectic - but we are back in the Tour!"
Sky heads into today's team time trial as one of the favourites with Wiggins and Thomas in their element and open about the stage being a major objective in the team's Tour plans, despite the stage's short 23 kilometre route.
As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.
Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.
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