‘We ran out of road and the barriers were sticking out’: Geraint Thomas escapes injury in nervous opening stage of Tour de France 2019

The 2018 champion was forced into the barrier in the closing kilometres but didn't lose time

Geraint Thomas escaped injury after crashing in the final two kilometres of the Tour de France’s opening stage in Brussels.

Team Ineos rider Thomas, the 2018 champion, fell in a crash that took out sprinter Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) as the pace surged in the closing moments.

“I’m fine,” Thomas said at the Team Ineos bus after the stage. “It was 3km to go so we were slowly drifting back just to try to get some space if there is a crash and we avoided it but just ran out of road. So it happened because the barriers were sticking out as well.

“I just toppled over. So it’s all good.”

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Thomas arrived later than co-captain Egan Bernal. He climbed on the bus and then back out to warm down on his bike. The mechanic straightened his right shifter and brake hood.

A chainring mark and some scratches were visible on the Welshman’s right side, but there were no other injuries.

“I gave myself enough space, I avoided the actual crash, but with the barriers there was no where to go,” Thomas added.

“It was just one of those things, but the main thing is that it didn’t do any damage. The bike took the hit and then I just toppled over.”

Ineos began the day in charge, moving to the front when the kilometres began to tick down toward the eventual sprint won by Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma).


 


Thomas rode safely, but could not avoid the currents in the peloton that resulted from the crash with Groenewegen.

“It was just good to get back into the groove with the boys,” explained Thomas. “We are riding well at the front always and communication was good and we started on the front foot, and we are going to TTT to continue that.”

On stage two the peloton faces a 27.6km team time trial, the first stage that could cause some cracks in the classification. The stage covers the city streets in Brussels, the second of three Belgian stages in the Tour de France 2019.

“It’s a big day. Hopefully we can all rest up well tonight and give it a good go.”

In 2018, Chris Froome and Egan Bernal were both held up by crashes in stage one. Bernal, riding the Tour again in 2019, noticed the “tension” already and was just “happy” to survive unscathed.

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“There was a lot of tension,” Bernal said after the opening stage. “I was behind the crash and I stayed out of trouble.

“You need to have luck – you can be at the front and there is a crash there or be at the back and there’s a crash there.

“To win the Tour you not only need strong legs and a strong team but you also need luck. I’m happy to have gotten through today.”