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Tour de France

Geraint Thomas: ‘I think everyone senses a little vulnerability in Pogačar’s team’

Ineos Grenadiers happy with day as Thomas moves up to third and is best of their fab four after stage 7.

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PLANCHER-LES-MINES, France (VN) — Which Ineos Grenadier can be the one to challenge Pogačar, Vingegaard and Roglič at this year’s Tour de France?

Arguably the most experienced one of their lineup, Geraint Thomas emerged as their best-placed challenger overall after stage 7 between Tomblaine and La Super Planche des Belles Filles.

“I think I managed to ride it quite well, not go too deep, too early,” he told journalists at the finish. “The last three hundred meters felt like a couple of minutes. I can be happy with how it went.”

After finishing fifth, just behind Primož Roglič, 2018 winner Thomas moves up to third overall, 1:10 down overall on stage winner and race leader Tadej Pogačar.

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“I think everyone senses a little vulnerability in his team. They’re obviously still riding really well, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a few creaks in there,” he said of UAE Team Emirates.

As the race progresses, it will be a case of looking for opportunities for Ineos Grenadiers. “We’ve got numbers, Jumbo obviously have got numbers, there’s a lot of other good bike riders and teams in the race.

“It’s not like we’re focusing solely on Pogačar, but we’re in a good situation at the moment.”

The Ineos fab four

It’s not quite John, Paul, George, and Ringo, but with Adam Yates fourth at 1:18, Tom Pidcock seventh at 1:35 and Dani Martínez tenth at 1:55, there are plenty of options for Ineos Grenadiers with their fab four.

“Obviously, it gives us some cards to play but at the same time, we need to use them at the right time,” Thomas said.

“And you’ve got to have the legs to do it. But we seem to at the minute, hopefully opportunity can arise and we can try and use those numbers.”

Yates loses a little ground

His compatriot and co-leader Yates was prominent for most of the final climb, losing ground in the final kilometer and finishing 29 seconds down on Pogačar.

“For me personally, I like to get out of the saddle quite a lot and use a big gear,” said Yates. “And when you try and do that on ascents like this, you don’t go very fast. It is what it is, and G was still up there, fighting.”

Pidcock impresses

Ineos Grenadiers entered the race touting a trio of leaders who are still in contention after the race’s first serious uphill test. In fact, at the moment, they possess a flying foursome.

Clad in the white jersey of best young rider, Tour debutant Tom Pidcock also impressed on the grueling seven-kilometer climb to the finish, finishing 14th in a group with teammate Martínez, Guillaume Martin of Cofidis, and Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost).

“Tom did a great ride, after we gave him a bit of a free role just to see what he’s capable of,” Ineos Grenadiers deputy team principal Rod Ellingworth said.

“There’s a huge thing going on in the background for him, of learning and taking it all in like a big sponge.”

“We’re happy with that, to be honest,” Ellingworth concluded of Ineos Grenadiers’ day riding La Planche. “Not bad at all. They rode well, G’s done a really good ride up there.”