Geraint Thomas is remaining calm with the Tour de France‘s yellow jersey on his shoulders as the Pyrenean mountains loom ahead – saying that the burden isn’t too stressful compared to the “real pressure” of an Olympic final.
The Welsh Team Sky leader took the lead with his stage victory at La Rosière ski resort and added to it with the Alpe d’Huez summit win the next day. But Thomas is not too bothered with the three Pyrenean stages approaching this Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
“To be honest it’s a lot less stressful,” Thomas said, comparing wearing the yellow jersey to the other positions he has been in racing on the track.
“I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I’m enjoying being in yellow and I’m thinking day by day. I’m not thinking too far ahead. I’m just worrying about tomorrow.
“When you compare this to getting up for the Olympic team pursuit final, four years of hard work and three mates relying on you, and you win by 10ths of a second, that’s real pressure.
“This is different, this is more sustained. But I think having Froomey in second place takes the pressure off as well. If something happens to me we still have him in the race.”
Thomas helped Great Britain win the team pursuit gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Over those years, he gradually shifted to become a classification rider – winning classics first and stages races, including the Critérium du Dauphiné last month.
“It’s the first time I’ve raced for three weeks as the GC leader so it’s a bit of an unknown. But there’s unknowns for Froomey and Dumoulin, they’ve done the Giro d’Italia, so you never know what will happen with them. It’s just a great position we’re in,” Thomas explained.
“I think each day is different, obviously. So I think we’ll take that as it comes. We’ll get through tomorrow and then obviously we have a plan for the first Pyrenean stage. The main thing is we win and don’t end up racing against each other, so Dumoulin wins. Then we’d look pretty stupid.”
Omar Fraile (Astana) won the stage to Mende’s airstrip today. In the favourites group behind, Thomas and Froome followed the moves by Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo). Dumoulin began to attack, then the Sky duo each took turns to pull their rivals back.
Roglič gained eight seconds, but with Dumoulin the Sky duo added time to their other rivals.
“Obviously it was tough but I felt good today,” said Thomas, “I wasn’t sure what to expect from that sort of climb. I knew it was likely to be relatively easy going into the bottom and then a big explosion. I think we can be satisfied with how it went.”
Froome explained, “There were gaps opening up all over the place and a few seconds gained here and there with a few guys. I think all in all we are pretty happy with myself and G up front, Dumoulin seems to be our biggest threat here at the moment.
“It’s great to be in that position, first and second overall, we can play off of each other. I imagine that for our rivals it’s making their lives quite difficult having two guys to watch like that.”