MENDE, France (VN) — Team Sky doesn’t want a civil war inside the team bus and open the door to a would-be rival.
“The main thing is that we win and that we don’t start racing against each other and Dumoulin wins, you know?” Thomas said Saturday. “Then we would look really stupid.”
Team Sky continues to throttle the Tour and have both of its GC options at the top of the leaderboard. Thomas kept yellow and Froome stayed even in second at 1:39 back on Saturday.
Sky controlled Saturday’s transition stage to Mende with a big non-threatening breakaway off the front before Thomas and Froome safely marked moves from archrival Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb). Emerging rival Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) gained eight seconds, but Sky piled up even more seconds on everyone else.
The biggest threat to Team Sky right now is if Froome and Thomas start feuding.
Froome seems content to let the race unfold naturally, at least right now. At the start, he said it would be a “dream scenario” if Sky could finish first and second in Paris on the assumption that it was Thomas in yellow.
“I think we are all pretty happy with myself and ‘G’ up front,” Froome said at the line. “It is just how it unfolds on the road. It’s great to be in that position, first and second. We can play off each other and I imagine that our rivals it’s making their lives quite difficult having two guys to watch like that.”
Sky is treading the balancing beam with both Froome and Thomas. Froome is trying to become the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour in the same season. Thomas has never raced three weeks as a protected GC leader.
“This is the first time I’ve raced for three weeks, so it’s a bit of an unknown,” Thomas said. “It’s also an unknown for Froomey and Dumoulin, they’ve both done the Giro. It’s a weird position we’re all in.”
Sky wants to keep both Thomas and Froome exactly where they are going into the Pyrénées. Sunday’s transition stage across the Massif Central ahead of Monday’s final rest day should see another breakaway pull clear.
Thomas is clearly enjoying his moment in the yellow jersey. A loyal team worker, Thomas finally earned his chance to co-lead the team as an insurance policy if Froome wouldn’t be ready to race.
Now that he’s in the lead, Thomas isn’t thinking too far ahead. It’s “one day at a time,” perhaps all the way to Paris.
“I’m not pouring pressure on myself,” said Thomas, a gold medalist in the 2008 team pursuit on the track. “Compared to the final in a team pursuit, when you’ve worked hard for four years to get there, and you can win or lose by 100th of a second, that’s real pressure. This is a different kind of pressure, more sustained. Having Froomey in second place takes the pressure off as well. If something happens to me, we still have him in the race.”
“I certainly would be happier if I won than Froomey,” Thomas added with a laugh. “The team is happy where we are.”
No hints of internal strife, at least not yet.