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Giro d'Italia

Gallant Thomas battles on, but plays down Giro hopes

Geraint Thomas has a strong showing in the Giro d'Italia's time trial, but he is still well behind in the overall due to Sunday's crash.

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MONTEFALCO, Italy (AFP) — After Sunday’s crash, Geraint Thomas will battle on but played down his chances of fighting for Giro d’Italia honors. The Sky rider rode to a valiant second-place finish in the stage 10 time trial Tuesday.

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Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) sent heads spinning in the scenic Sagrantino wine region to claim a stage win 49 seconds ahead of the Welshman. In doing so, he secured the race leader’s pink jersey.

While Dumoulin suggested Thomas could rebound in defiant fashion when the race heads into the high mountains next week, the 29-year-old Sky rider is less sure about his own chances of a podium finish. “It’s a hell of a task,” Thomas said after finishing the 39.8km race against the clock from Foligno to Montefalco.

Thomas had lost over five minutes to pink jersey favorite Nairo Quintana at Blockhaus on Sunday. He was among several riders who crashed when Dutchman Wilco Kelderman clipped a police motorcycle by the side of the road.

A dislocated shoulder was “popped” back into its socket in order to continue. But it left him with a throbbing energy-sapping pain.

Thomas, one of Chris Froome’s key Tour de France teammates, fought the pain barrier again on Tuesday. He finished second only to Dumoulin, who won Olympic time trial silver in Rio last year.

Although buoyed, he regretted deciding to throw his water bottle away during the race with the ‘wrong’ arm.

“It’s one of those [situations] where you have to grit your teeth and go for it and hope the pain [in the legs] is more than the pain in the arm,” he said. “I tried to give it everything today. But I threw my water bottle away with this arm with about 8km to go, and I probably shouldn’t have done that!”

Dumoulin, who wore the pink jersey last year after winning the opening stage time trial on home soil in Apeldoorn, now leads Colombia’s Nairo Quintana by 2:23 in the overall standings.

The Movistar rider, as well as Italy’s defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), will heap the pressure on next week when the real climbing begins from stage 16 onward. The race finishes in Milan on May 28.

Although Thomas is now 5:33 in arrears, Dumoulin said: “My rivals are still the same after Blockhaus. Maybe Geraint Thomas can attack on a hard mountain day and he gets five minutes.”

Wednesday’s stage is a medium mountain stage over 161km between Florence to Bagno di Romagna. Two sprint stages follow, where the overall contenders will largely be looking to stay out of trouble.

“Hopefully I can recover. Tomorrow’s a super-hard day, then we’ve got two sprint days,” Thomas added.