Geraint Thomas said he felt like a “right whopper” after a bizarre crash inside the final 100m of stage four of the Tour of Romandie gave the Welshman and his supporters a scare eight weeks out from the Tour de France.
Thomas, who is aiming to win his second maillot jaune this summer after his famous victory in 2018, had shown excellent legs on the race’s queen stage, powering through the sleet and mist to set up a two-way sprint for victory in the Swiss ski resort of Thyon.
But his frozen hands slipped on his bars as he opened up his sprint against Canadian Michael Woods [Israel StartUp-Nation] and he hit the deck hard.
Thankfully, Thomas appeared to suffer only wounded pride. The Ineos Grenadiers rider was able to remount and finish the stage third behind Ben O’Connor (AG2R). And assuming he shows no ill effects from his crash overnight, Thomas should begin Sunday’s 16km hilly time trial around Fribourg as the favourite for the overall win given he sits just 11 seconds behind Woods on general classification and has far better time trial pedigree.
But he was clearly frustrated with himself, shaking his head as he rolled over the line and later admitting to reporters that he was “emotional”.
“I just had no feeling whatsoever in my hands,” he explained. “I tried to change gear but instead I just lost the bars. It’s so frustrating. Even if I’d just stayed in that gear and come second. But to deck it there… I feel like a right whopper.
“I’m fine,” Thomas added of his injuries. “It’s more frustration. It was such a hard day. To lose time like that at the end is just frustrating. I’ll try to make the time again tomorrow. I just want to go and have a hot shower now. Settle down. Not be so emotional. And then think about tomorrow.”
Chris Froome, meanwhile, says he still hopes to compete for a record-equalling fifth Tour title this summer. The Englishman, who has moved to Israel Start-Up Nation this year following a decade with Team Ineos/Sky, is working his way back to full fitness following career-threatening injuries at the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine. He has finished way down on GC in recent races, including the ongoing Tour de Romandie. After the race concludes, Froome will take a rest from racing before one final push at the Critérium du Dauphiné next month.
“As I said before, it’s getting better and better, I feel that I am making progress. But I still need time,” Froome told Belgian media after stage 3 of Tour de Romandie. “I will continue to work and can only hope to get there. ”