Geraint Thomas singled out Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) for praise after his performance on La Planche de Belles Filles on stage six of the Tour de France.
“I heard he’s from round there, he knew it really well and he timed his effort really well,” Thomas said of the Frenchman, who was third in the 2014 Tour de France.
He was talking after the 230km epic stage seven from Belfort to Chalon-sur-Saône in eastern France, won by Jumbo-Visma’s Dylan Groenewegen.
Team Ineos rider Thomas also praised Pinot’s compatriot and erstwhile maillot jaune Julian Alaphilippe — “he was super strong” — and said the rest of the GC contenders were “there or thereabouts”.
The Welshman refused to be drawn on whether his small time gap over team-mate Bernal was of any significance, batting away the question with “what do you think?”
After toughing out the longest stage of the Tour de France 2019 in nagging cross-headwinds, Thomas said his legs had stood up well following his travails at La Planche des Belles Filles.
“Yeah it was OK,” he said. “It was just a long day in the saddle really with the wind. A long day. Everything was starting to ache by the end wrists and feet and stuff, but I guess it’s better than 230k in full-on crosswinds.”
Stage eight from Mâcon to Saint-Etienne in the Massif Central will be another challenging day out for the riders. Not only is it long at 200km, but it also features seven categorised climbs, five of which are cat-two.
“Everyone thinks it’s a breakaway day so there’s gonna be a big fight for that,” predicted Thomas. “It’ll probably still be going by the time we hit the first climb, so it’ll be a hard start for sure.”