Geraint Thomas (Ineos) feels confident again heading into the second rest day of the 2019 Tour de France.
On stage 15 the Welsh defending champion fought with the top riders on the Prat d’Albis summit finish and remains on top of a tight general classification fight right behind a fading Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step).
“I felt good at the top and am feeling kind of like my old self again. I’m looking forward to the Alps now, kind of wish we could just keep going and not have this rest day,” Thomas said back at his team bus in Foix.
When asked if he felt as good as in 2018 when he won the Tour, Thomas replied: “Today in the final few kilometres I felt like I was.
“That was good for the head and the morale I guess. I’m just going to really take that forward now in the Alps and be aggressive and just ride like I normally do.”
The race is stopping for a rest day in Nîmes on Monday. Alaphilippe still holds the yellow jersey but showed signs that he might be weakening, with three big mountain days still left to race before Paris.
Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) took his second stage win from the breakaway while behind Alaphilippe slipped back 27 seconds and finished the day only 1-35 minutes ahead of Thomas in the overall classification. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) attacked with 6km to go and gained 49 seconds, with Thomas’s team-mate Egan Bernal just behind.
Now, the overall classification fight from Thomas in second to Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) in sixth is separated only by 39 seconds.
“Alaphilippe was obviously still quite punchy, he went with the guys and I decided to just let them go and ride my own pace with Wout [Poels] but then when we caught Alaphlippe we didn’t want to give them a turn so kind of got stuck a bit there,” Thomas added.
“I’m feeling good, and with some good legs at the end, which is the most important thing and I’m just looking forward to the Alps.
“Now we’re in a good position and obviously it’d be better not to lose that time today to Pinot but I’m confident that I’m going to get stronger now.”
Compared to 24 hours previously on the Tourmalet, Thomas appears to have his mojo back. He said he thought his self-esteem was high.
“I feel good, I think I finished strongly today and maybe I could have gone with them when they attacked but I think just riding my own pace with Wout was the right thing,” he added.
“I’m feeling good and looking forward to to the Alps.”