Geraint Thomas (Ineos) is racing to defend his 2018 Tour de France title but admits that he is “disappointed” after the first big summit finish stage in this year’s race.
Thomas slipped behind in the closing kilometre of the 19km summit finish on the Col du Tourmalet and lost 36 seconds to rivals Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step). He now sits second at 2-02 behind Frenchman Alaphilippe
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“It’s not the best day,” Thomas said at the pass at 2,115 metres.
“I just didn’t feel quite on it from the start. I was quite weak.”
Thomas began to slip behind in the group which also contained Ineos team-mate Egan Bernal and other rivals such as Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), third at 2-14 minutes now. Pinot won the stage with an acceleration in the final 200m to top of the Tourmalet.
“At the end, I knew I just had to pace it. I didn’t really attempt to follow when they kicked. I just thought I should ride my own pace rather than follow them and blow up on the steepest bit at the end,” continued Thomas.
“It’s disappointing. I just tried to limit the damage.”
The Welshman last year used the first two mountain stages to establish leadership in the Tour de France team with Chris Froome and to take the race lead. However, the first big stages of the 2019 Tour haven’t gone that same way.
Julian Alaphilippe remains in the famous yellow top for a 10th day. Thomas, however, thinks time is on his side with several mountain days to come, beginning with the summit finish stage to Prat d’Albis tomorrow.
“We will see the next few days. From the start I just didn’t feel great today,” Thomas said
“There’s still a lot to come.”
When asked if a repeat Tour win was still within reach. Thomas responded, “Why not?”