‘Chris Froome is a big loss but the team’s still strong’ says Geraint Thomas ahead of Tour de France title defence

The Welshman also admitted that he "didn't feel great" after the opening stage one time trial at the Tour de Suisse

Geraint Thomas (Ineos) has said he hopes his team-mate Chris Froome can get back on his bike quickly after the four-time Tour de France champion was placed in intensive care following his crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Speaking after a strong showing at the opening stage one time trial at the Tour de Suisse, where the Welshman is preparing to defend his Tour de France title come July, Thomas said Froome’s crash is something that is never nice to hear “especially when it’s a close friend”, but that in order to race you have to try and put these sorts of incidents “out of your mind”.

>>> Chris Froome’s first words since crash: ‘This is obviously a tough time but I want to say a huge thank you to everyone for their support’

“Yeah it’s scary obviously…[the crash] sounds horrific and I think it’s one of those where he would have had time to think, to know he’s about to crash,” Thomas told BBC Sport Wales. “It’s not like one of those where it’s like boom and you’re on the floor, it’s one of those where you try and save it, that’s the worst.

“It sounds like he’s lucky to have come away with the damage that’s been done, when it could have been a hell of a lot worse, I guess that’s a positive in a bad scenario,” Thomas continued. “But yeah he’s got the best care around him now so hopefully he can get back on the bike soon.”

Despite finishing strongest out of the GC riders, Thomas apparently told BBC Sport Wales that he “didn’t feel great today”, as the 33-year-old continues to build his form ahead of the Tour’s Grand Départ from Brussels on July 6.

Thomas and Froome were both set to compete for the Tour de France title, with Dave Brailsford saying whoever of the two was the strongest out in France would get the support of the team. When asked whether incidents like Froome’s affect him, Thomas said: “Not really, you just need to put it out of your mind when you’re racing.

“Obviously afterwards when I’m sat on the sofa speaking to Wout [Poels] or another one of my team-mates then it’s really not nice at all. But when you’re in the race, if you’re thinking about that you’ll never be in the race. It’s just part of the sport, it’s one of those things, and you try to avoid it but we’ve all had our fair share of bad luck and hopefully he can come back quickly.”

Further details have emerged of Froome’s crash during a recon of the stage four time trial of the 2019 Critérium du Dauphine. Froome suffered multiple, severe fractures as well as losing four pints of blood, with the Ineos rider airlifted to hospital after crashing into a wall on a descent at 60kph.

>>> Chris Froome lost four pints of blood in Critérium du Dauphiné crash, as surgeon reveals further details

Despite the rivalry on the road, the pair have always said they remain good friends, with Thomas having helped Froome to multiple Tour de France wins, and Froome returning the favour last year when Thomas found himself in the race lead, with no-one able to dislodge him.

Thomas said he hasn’t yet spoken to Froome, but has sent him a couple of messages, and that he’s “sure he’s got a few to get through”.

Ineos will still take one of if not the strongest teams to the 2019 Tour de France, but Thomas says Froome will still be missed. “He’s one of the greatest Grand Tour riders ever so obviously it’s a big loss,” the Welshman said, “but the team’s still strong and whoever comes into it to replace him will certainly add to the team and be able to contribute a lot. So we just need to stay positive, refocus and keep going.”

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