NICE, France (VN) — Geraint Thomas is slowly changing the phrase “toughen up” to “G up” with his perseverance in the Tour de France. Despite a stage 1 tumble and subsequent fractured pelvis, the Welshman continues to survive and help Sky.
Thomas not only held on in today’s 25-kilometer time trial around Nice, but he contributed to the team’s success. His early pulls helped Sky place third in the stage, just three seconds behind winner Orica-GreenEdge. Thomas finally dropped off the Sky train at the 1km kite and still finished with a faster individual time than seven teams.
“I was dreading it. I was scared of the start as the last two days I have not been able to get out the saddle and I haven’t been able to put out the big watts,” Thomas said to journalists crowded around the team’s bus.
Thomas relied on the same grit that helped him see to Great Britain’s Olympic team pursuit gold medals in 2008 and 2012.
“I think the adrenalin, being really up for it, [helped]. I managed to grit my teeth and stay with the boys,” he added. “Once we were at speed it was okay. In the line you can sort of stay in there, and I even gave them a couple of turns, everything I had. I’m really chuffed that I can put out a bit more power now so the pain is definitely getting less.”
A CT scan Sunday night confirmed that Thomas had fractured his pelvis in stage 1’s massive pileup at nearly 5km out. He explained that his pain was mostly on the bone around his back and that he feels no real pressure when in the saddle.
Sky’s GC captain, Chris Froome, was pleased to see Thomas riding so well, that he “G’ed up” as well. Froome won the Critérium du Dauphiné with Thomas’ help last month and wanted him in the team to win the Tour de France.
With the 27-year-old Thomas, Sky had the best time out of all the GC teams. Its time of 25:59 put Froome up six seconds on Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), 14 seconds on Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), and 23 seconds on Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).
“The main objective today was to come through without losing any time on the main contenders — but we’ve come through it having gained a bit of time, which is a fantastic bonus,” Froome said, waiting his turn to speak after Thomas.
“I think the big story is Geraint. Not only did he hold on, he did some massive turns. He’s been in a great deal of pain, so to see him do that lifted all of us, lifted our spirits. Going forward, I don’t think it’s a question of whether he can hang on or not after what he did today.”
If Thomas continues to improve, Froome will be well protected when Sky needs to hit the front on Saturday’s stage to Ax 3 Domaines. As it is now, Orica will likely control the race at least through Friday’s stage to Albi for new leader Simon Gerrans. Afterwards, it is over to pre-race favorite Froome, who has complete confidence in Thomas.