Stage 2 from Utrecht to Zelande was battered by severe crosswinds and rain and early in the stage, Thomas found himself on the deck – unhurt – but with a broken Pinarello frame after being hit from behind.
“Someone crashed into my back wheel and I toppled over but it was okay. I broke my frame but I was back pretty quick,” he said at the finish of the stage, as he warmed-down on the rollers.
Thomas remounted and regained contact with the main field before the race split apart under pressure from Etixx-Quickstep and Tinkoff-Saxo. The Welshman made the key split, along with Ian Stannard and Team Sky’s GC contender, Chris Froome.
“There were crashes happening and roundabouts splitting it but we joined in after a while with BMC and it was perfect.”
The lead group contained Alberto Contador and Tejay van Garderen and eventual stage winner André Greipel, however there were a number of noticeable absentees in Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali and overnight race leader Rohan Dennis.
“You look around when it settles down and there was only Tejay and Contador. Nibali and Quintana were the main two not there and that was perfect.”
The situation meant that when Etixx-Quickstep, who were hunting the stage and the yellow jersey, combined with Tinkoff-Saxo, Team Sky were obliged to help. Alberto Contador later criticised both BMC and Team Sky for their lack of commitment but the group still managed to put 1:28 into Nibali and Quintana – a sizeable gap after just two stages of racing.
“A minute and a half, it’s great to be on the front foot and gain that time. It’s one battle out of 21 and a lot can change and they can quite easily make that back tomorrow. It’s great to gain that time though.”
Froome now sits tenth overall and is the best placed rider of the provisional GC contenders. He even managed to take four seconds from van Garderen and Contador after a late split in the final sprint for the line.
“It comes down to a bit of luck and being in the right place,” Thomas said.
“We’ve got a good team for that type of race. They may be more suited to the climbs but like I say it can all change with a puncture at the wrong time or a silly crash like what happened to me.”
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