Geraint Thomas (Ineos) says Tour de France contenders “have to expect anything,” having gained a massive 1-40 minutes on stage 10 over rivals – not in the mountains, but in the crosswinds coming out of the Massif Central.
The defending Tour champion and Team Ineos helped blow the stage to Albi wide open for an eventual overall win. Among the losers were Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First).
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“You have to expect anything can happen any day, but on paper, the TT is the next big stage,” Thomas said of stage 13 coming up.
“I am surprised so many missed out, I guess. They committed full to try to close it quickly and when they didn’t manage that, the elastic snapped and we really gained time.”
With 35km to race, Ineos and Deceuninck-Quick-Step took the reins. Crosswinds helped them to split the peloton. Pinot, who was the best placed classification rider at the end of stage nine, fell from third to 11th.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) remains on top of the race in the yellow jersey, but Thomas leads the virtual classification. He has four seconds on his team-mate Egan Bernal, 15 on Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), 35 on Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), 52 on Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), and 1-21 minutes on Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ).
“It is certainly a good blow, you just got to be on it and ready to go at any moment, and that’s where we were,” Thomas added.
“Especially on a day like today where you’d never expect it really, it was just a positioning error from them and then they lose over a minute and a half. A great day from our point.”
Pinot did not want to speak when arriving after 217.5km in Albi. The Frenchman said only, “I’ve got nothing to say. It was a shitty day.”