SASSOTETTO, Italy (VN) — A wheel failure, a parked police motorbike, and now a stuck chain — Geraint Thomas (Sky) is beginning to wonder if he is cursed in Italy.
Thomas lost his blue leader’s jersey in the Tirreno-Adriatico’s queen stage Saturday and slipped back by 34 seconds when he tried to shift and his chain jammed. He now trails new overall leader Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) by 26 seconds. His teammate Michal Kwiatkowski sits second at one second back in the overall standings.
“I was trying to go into the big ring and it just came off and it got stuck,” Thomas said. “I was yanking it to try to get it out and it wouldn’t come out and neutral service couldn’t do it either. I don’t know how it happened, just one of those things.
“It seemed like an eternity to try to get the chain out and then the neutral service tried to help, then got a bike and fortunately Froomey was there and gave me a good turn, but yeah, it’s so annoying.”
“That’s just bad luck,” sports director Nicolas Portal said. “What we heard from Shimano is that the chain was stuck between the chainring and frame. It’s strange, it worked fine all day, up and down, no issue.”
Thomas had help from Chris Froome or ‘Froomey’ who had been dropped earlier on the climb. Froome paced him as much as he could so that he would stay high up in the classification.
After Saturday’s summit finish at 1,335 meters, there are just three days left to race. Much could change Sunday in the technical stage to Filottrano and, of course, on the final time trial stage Tuesday.
“It was all going so well, I was feeling comfy, just waiting, and it’s just ridiculous,” Thomas said. “We’ll have to have a look at the results are now, but it’s very frustrating.”
Portal added, “Geraint doesn’t have his luck in this race, but hopefully we can change it. We need to see who is in front, who can time trial, and if he can take a stage win or bonifications.”
Thomas this year is building to be Sky’s second option alongside Froome in the Tour de France. He raced Tirreno-Adriatico last year, as part of his build-up to the 2017 Giro d’Italia, but the race get not get off to a clean start.
Due to Gianni Moscon’s wheel failure in Tirreno-Adriatico’s stage one opening team time trial, Thomas lost around a minute and 30 seconds on his rivals. It proved crucial as he ended the 2017 race fifth overall, only 58 seconds behind.
Thomas then arrived at the 2017 Giro d’Italia after winning the overall in the Tour of the Alps. However, a police motorbike parked on the side of the road in stage nine caused a crash and forced Thomas to quit the race.
“I guess that’s bike racing, but it’s frustrating at the moment,” Thomas said. “Cursed here in Tirreno-Adriatico? Maybe yeah, but we still have a few days racing, so…”