British Champ Geraint Thomas will start his second day at the Tour de France today in Épernay in the white jersey of best young rider. He captured the jersey on Tuesday after featuring in an elite lead group and finishing second in the cobblestone stage to Arenberg.
“Everyday having the jersey is a bonus,” said Thomas, “but it is all for Brad.”
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Brad Wiggins became Sky’s Tour de France leader when he joined the newly formed British-based team at the end of last year. He finished fourth behind Spain’s Alberto Contador last year and this year aims for at least the podium.
Thomas helped Wiggins move up the overall classification on Tuesday. He made the lead group with Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans, which gave Wiggins a support team-mate ahead and confidence in his team’s strength.
Sky’s sports director, Sean Yates told Thomas to go for the stage win and help himself to Great Britain’s first white jersey since David Millar in 2000. Thomas finished second behind Norway’s Thor Hushovd and took the white jersey.
He wore the jersey in yesterday’s stage to Reims and put it on again this morning for the stage from Épernay to Montargis.
“It felt special to put on white jersey, an honour to be wearing it. It’s a surprise as well, I didn’t expect it. I thought my only chance would be at the prologue.”
Thomas is talented – he won a gold in the 4K team pursuit at the 2008 Olympics – but may see the jersey slip away by the weekend. The Tour de France enters the high mountains starting on Saturday, with a mountain top finish to Station des Rousses (1,168m).
“There are a lot of good young riders here, like Andy Schleck, Roman Kreuziger, Tony Martin…” continued Thomas.
“I’m here for Brad, the jersey is just a bonus. In the mountains I guess I’ll help brad with positioning and [water] bottle runs, things like that. Definitely, I don’t think I’ll be there at the end with him, that’s down to people like Tommy Löfkvist and Serge Pauwels.”
“Our aim here is to protect Brad and ride for Brad,” added team manager, David Brailsford. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic for Geraint, but that is not what we are here to do. You end up diluting your efforts and you get indecision with your guys. What you need is clarity.”
Brad Wiggins sits one minute and 49 second behind overall race leader Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and one minute and 10 seconds behind top classification rival, Evans. Thomas has the white jersey lead by a slim 46 second margin over Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), who is one of the top favourites to win the yellow jersey.
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