Geraint Thomas would have probably continued in the Giro d’Italia despite pain due to Sunday’s crash, but Team Sky said that they needed to look after their star rider with other goals like the Tour de France on the horizon.
On Friday morning, instead of racing the 13th stage, Thomas flew from Milan to Manchester for evaluation and rest.
“The way he dealt with the impact was typical Geraint,” team principal David Brailsford said. “Because he deals with those things in a very professional and classy way.
“It’s easy to underestimate the impact of a crash because he hit the ground pretty hard, at over 50 kilometres an hour and caused some damage.
“He’s is one of the toughest and he can take a lot of pain, he’s got a very high pain threshold but at a certain point, you have to take action because he doesn’t complain about it.
“Just because he doesn’t complain about it doesn’t mean it hadn’t had an impact.”
Thomas left the Giro d’Italia suffering from shoulder, but above all, knee pain due to a crash in Sunday’s stage to Blockhaus.
A police motorbike parked on the roadside caused a wave of crashes including Thomas, Sky co-captain Mikel Landa, Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) and Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb). Kelderman, helper for overall race leader Tom Dumoulin, abandoned immediately with a fractured finger.
Welshman Thomas, 31 next week, pushed on earlier this week following the rest day. He nearly won the time trial, but lost time in the next two stages. On Thursday, he could not hold the group speeding to Emilia Romagna for the sprint finish.
“It was not a difficult decision at all [to abandon]. He couldn’t continue quite frankly,” Brailsford said. “He was in a lot of pain and you can see that from yesterday [stage 12], he was dropped in the final on a flat stage. He was suffering quite a lot and it was quite an easy decision after that.
“It’s a disappointing one when you look at the bigger picture. However, he needs to get that knee sorted out and he needs some good medical care, to have a full assessment and treatment.
“We have to look after him and do the right thing and hopefully he bounces back and he’ll be looking to do the Tour de France. Brad Wiggins had one of those best performances in the Vuelta a España after he broke his collarbone in the Tour.”
Watch: Giro d’Italia stage 16-21 preview
Thomas could be Sky’s second classification option in the Tour de France as Chris Froome races for a fourth title. Having another option, as the Giro has shown, is always wise for any team.
“It’s too early to say [about the Tour] but we need to get full examination of the injury and after this afternoon we’ll be able to assess and recalibrate,” added Brailsford.
“But he’s in good shape physically so I think you just need to readjust to have a little break mentally as anybody would want to.
“And then you a build up again and hopefully coming to the Tour with the same condition that he had for the Giro which would be pretty exciting.”