Geraint Thomas (Barloworld) avoided the crash near the Tour of Britain stage four finish, but was unlucky during the stage after a puncture forced him to drop back from the chasers that went after the early break in the Forest of Bowland.
Thomas has fought back from a broken hip and scaphoid this season and was finally on form and good enough to challenge for success at the Tour of Britain. Fate and a slow wheel change ended his chances.
He had joined Vladimir Karpets (Katusha), 2008 Tour of Britain winner Geoffroy Lequatre (Agritubel) and Maxime Monfort (Columbia-HTC) in the attack on the climbs.
The three eventually caught the early move and they almost stayed away. Thomas would have done generous turns on the front and so his contribution could have made the difference, making victory possible. And Thomas knew it.
“It’s the story of my f***ing season…” he said bitterly at the finish.
“I was feeling good and we were going across the gap quickly because it was a good group of riders but then I got a slow puncture.”
To make matters worse, the SRAM neutral service was slow at getting him a wheel and clearly has little professional road race experience.
“We’d just gone away, so there was no neutral service. Eventually some guy did stop but I don’t know what he does for a living. Maybe he sells chips but he doesn’t change wheels, that’s for sure,” Thomas said after the finish.
“Afterwards he started walking off and I even had to say ‘Any chance of a push, mate?'”
“I wanted to attack because I was frustrated yesterday after I got blocked in during the sprint. Karpets went away and then there were four of us away. I was feeling good, cruising up the climbs. Then I got a puncture and it was game over.”