Geraint Thomas (Ineos) says that he is not sweating the early five second time loss as he tries to defend his Tour de France title.
The Welshman slid back in the third stage as it ramped up towards the finish line in Épernay. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) won the stage solo ahead of a group led by Michael Matthews (Sunweb) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). Also tucked in the group, Thomas’s team-mate and Ineos co-leader Egan Bernal and rival Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ).
Thomas led the next group home, in sight of the group ahead but distanced enough for the officials to count off five seconds.
Thomas said he was not worried about the five-second loss, but admitted it was frustrating.
“Obviously it was frustrating, but yeah, it’s a hell of a long way to go so. It’s all good,” he said.
Alaphilippe celebrated with the yellow jersey on the podium while followers began to note that Thomas, the 2018 champion, had lost time.
Alaphilippe leads with 20 seconds on Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), 25 on Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), 40 on Bernal in sixth and 45 on Thomas in seventh.
On Tuesday morning in Reims, Thomas explained how it happened. He had been trying to save energy over the final 300 metres uphill by drifting – a trick many riders use as they save energy for the bigger mountain days.
“I kind of let some of the sprinters pass me into corner and then I was just hoping to drift back a bit, but as it happened, no one started coming past me, “Thomas added.
“And there was a bit of a gap, and then it’s like ‘Oh crap’, but it is what it is. I don’t think anyone has won the Tour on little five-second finishes like that.”
The advantage yesterday swung in the favour of Frenchman Pinot, who placed third in 2014. Also, it gave Bernal a bit of an advantage in the team when it comes to leadership. Instead of being equals in the 2019 Tour, the 22-year-old now stands on top.
Thomas also took a tumble on day one in the final two kilometres but says that he is OK. In stage two, Ineos put time into all of their rivals except Jumbo-Visma. The team with Kruijswijk, fifth in 2018, gained 20 seconds.