Geraint Thomas (Ineos) has said “it makes sense” to share leadership responsibilities with 22-year-old Egan Bernal at the upcoming Tour de France.
Following team-mate Chris Froome’s horrific crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné, many assumed discussion over Ineos team leadership at the Tour would be over, with the British outfit reduced to only the one previous winner in their squad.
>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
However, after Thomas crashed out of the Tour de Suisse on stage four and Bernal went on to win the race, the young Colombian’s form became impossible for team selectors to ignore.
“Egan and I will work hard for each other and the team over the three weeks of the race,” the Welshman told The Observer, who also went into more detail about his crash in Switzerland.
“When I saw blood dripping from my face I knew the doc wasn’t going to let me continue, so I just stayed sat on the floor. But it was more from just the anger and the disappointment, really. Just sitting there never looks great, because if a guy doesn’t get up straight away it normally means something bad has happened, but I was fine.
“It was disappointing to have to pull out but it was the right call,” Thomas said. “I hit my head pretty hard and I was cut above the eye. However, there was no real concussion symptoms in the couple of days afterwards, so I was able to start training again on the Friday after the crash and I’ve had some decent rides since.”
Thomas is no stranger to crashes, having fallen hard on the opening stage of the 2013 Tour. Despite heading to hospital after stage two and discovering he had fractured his pelvis, he completed the race, helping Chris Froome take his first of four Tour victories.
“The crash was not ideal, mainly because I wanted to see where I was and to be more certain about what everyone else was doing compared to me,” Thomas said of his crash in Switzerland, “but purely from a physical point of view, I don’t think the crash is too much of an issue. I would have liked to have done all the race just to have a really good test.”
The lack of knowledge concerning the 33-year-old’s form will have played a part in Ineos deciding that Thomas and Bernal should share leadership at the French Grand Tour. The first indication we will get as to which rider has the better chance of standing on the Champs-Élysées podium in yellow coming on stage six when the peloton tackle La Planche Des Belles Filles.
“All I can do now is worry about myself in training and crack on with that,” Thomas said, “but the stages I was in during the Tour de Suisse, I was feeling ok and getting better as it was going on. But we’ll soon find out what form I am in.”