Geraint Thomas wary of Julian Alaphilippe threat as Tour de France rolls on
Defending champion Thomas also says Steven Kruijswijk is a major contender in the general classification
Geraint Thomas (Ineos), on the Tour de France's first rest day, is considering yellow jersey Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) an overall threat as the race heads towards the big mountains.
The Frenchman has led the race for six days and has 1-12 minutes on 2018 winner Thomas in second, 1-16 on Ineos team-mate Egan Bernal and 1-27 minutes to Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma).
>>> Sean Yates Tour de France column: It’s not a surprise Alaphilippe is in yellow, but he won’t last the week
Team boss David Brailsford said Ineos sit in a good position to try to win their seventh Tour title, but they would rather have Alaphilippe at seconds, not a minute.
"Like Dave said, myself and Egan in second and third is a great situation," Thomas said.
"It'd be better to be closer to Alaphilippe, and not one minute, but we are in a great spot. Getting time yesterday was a real good bonus."
Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick-Step helped Ineos split stage nine to Albi in the crosswinds. They gained 1-40 minutes on Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and other rivals, with Alaphilippe holding on to his yellow jersey.
Alaphilippe won two stages and the mountains classification in the 2018 Tour de France, placing 33rd overall at one hour, 28 minutes behind Thomas in that race, his best result overall in a Grand Tour.
He won Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and La Flèche Wallonne this spring, but his biggest stage race wins remain the Tour of Britain in 2018 and the Tour of California in 2016.
"We didn't mind him gaining a few seconds in the first week here and there, but obviously you have to be more and more aware of him as the race goes on," Thomas continued.
"There are some big days ahead in the mountains and by the second race day we'll know more. If he increased his advantage it'll be a concern."
>>> Get a half price Garmin Edge 820 in Amazon Prime Day 2019 sale
Thomas, however, has eyes more towards Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) and other proven Grand Tour riders.
"Steven is a very strong rider," Thomas explained. "He could have won the Giro a couple of years ago, he's been consistent, fifth last year in the Tour and top 10s in Grand Tours. He's a big threat with strong riders around him."
Jumbo-Visma won the team time trial and three sprints with Mike Teunissen, Dylan Groenewegen and on Monday on stage nine, Wout Van Aert.
"We just have one goal," Thomas said. "If you look at Jumbo-Visma for instance, they are going for stages, and other teams have riders in breaks, but we just have one goal of trying to win the overall.
"Yesterday was a great day, and it shows you need to be attentive and the ball. Nine out of 10 times nothing can happen, but you have to be attentive. And the guys here have been on winning teams, that adds to it."
Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
Former Tour de France yellow jersey wearer to ride Unbound Gravel
Unbound 200 contestants will be joined by a gravel newcomer of note this year. Former Tour de France race leader Jan Bakelants is joining in on the fray.
By Anne-Marije Rook • Published
POC Ventral Tempus MIPS Review - A helmet for riding in the rain, and being seen
Bright, light and comfortable, but not cheap
By Tyler Boucher • Published