Thomas maintained his position as far as possible, but the pace became too much soon after the peloton crossed from Tuscany to Emilia Romagna.
He slipped behind on the final Monte Fumaiolo climb and chased the favourites all the way to the finish line 25 kilometres later. He lost 48 seconds.
“I was suffering all day. I had a really sore knee as well. I was just trying to get to the finish as best as I could,” Thomas said. His knees and elbow showed dried blood marks.
“I felt worse than yesterday. Yesterday was only an hour but today was four and a half or whatever. I was just suffering all day, I wasn’t good out there.”
The performance gave hope that Thomas was back on track following his crash. He fell with team-mates including Mikel Landa due to a parked police motorbike on Sunday. On stage 11, that hope began to vanish.
“I was with [Steven] Kruijswijk and there are a few of us, he had a team-mate as well,” added Thomas.
“We were riding quite well together but they were going for it up front. Phil [Deignan] was up the road and he came back and helped in the end but I just couldn’t really close much.”
Thomas slid from 11th to 14th, at 6-21, in the overall classification. Some followers wonder if he will keep riding for the overall or drop out so that he can go for stage wins from an escape.
“I am taking it day by day to to see and how I get through the next two days, to see how I am on the next GC stage [Oropa on Saturday] and after that, I guess I’ll have a clear picture and be able to decide,” Thomas said.
“I’m just looking forward to getting to the hotel and going to bed! But the next couple of easy days will hopefully play to my advantage.”
Landa’s time loss from the Blockhaus stage means that the race leader will allow him to go free in the early escape. The Basque rider tried with a large group on Wednesday and later broke free with Omar Fraile (Dimension Data), the eventual stage winner.
“I am going day after day now, just going for stages and not for the overall,” Landa said. “I’m trying to keep my motivation, staying attentive all day for something.”
Landa rubbed his left thigh, where he feels the most pain after his crash.
“It was a fast climb, and I was with good riders. I went with Omar, but I couldn’t stay with him. On that climb, Omar told me, ‘Come one, come on!’ But I just couldn’t stay with him. I’m happy all the same.”