Despite playing the role of super domestique for his leader Chris Froome, Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas moved to fifth overall in the 2015 Tour de France after a stellar performance to La Pierre-St Martin on stage 10.
The Welshman, 29, paced Froome into the early stages of the first summit finish of the race but clung on near the front of the race as Froome shed his main rivals to take the stage win and tighten his grip on the yellow jersey in the Pyrenees.
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Thomas finished sixth on the stage alongside Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde, 2:01 down on Froome, and was delighted with his performance. He now sits 4-03 down on his team leader.
“To be riding like that on a climb, following Valverde and dropping Tejay Van Garderen, well, [it was] a great day,” he said.
“I kind of did my turn, got with Valverde and got back up to Tejay, and obviously I wasn’t going to ride with Tejay to limit his losses, so I was stuck behind him for four or five kilometres.
“It was kind of frustrating; I kind of wanted to go, but I just sat there and recovered and then when Valverde went at the end I just followed him.”
Thomas has made significant gains with his climbing in 2015 and finished second overall at the Tour de Suisse in June. Earlier in the season he won the Tour of Algarve, finished fifth in Paris-Nice, and proved his versatility with victory in the E3 Harelbeke cobbled classic.
He has played a crucial role as Froome’s right hand man in the opening week of the 2015 Tour, a role to which Froome paid tribute following the stage.
“For Richie Porte to come second and taking those valuable seconds away from Nairo Quintana, and G [Thomas] a couple of seconds back in sixth, it’s unbelievable,” Froome said following the stage. “That is the calibre of riders that I’ve brought with me to the Tour de France.”
The stage also saw Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) finish seventh, three seconds down on Thomas, to complete the trio of British riders in the top ten of the first summit finish of the 2015 Tour.
Geraint Thomas: where it all began