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Tour de France

Geraint Thomas: Possible Tour de France alliances but Pogačar isn’t calling me the night before

'I’m more looking ahead but you have to be aware of what’s behind you,' Welshman tells VeloNews.

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CARCASSONNE, France (VN) – Scorching temperatures and rolling terrain greeted the Tour de France riders on the road from Rodez to Carcassonne on stage 15 of the race with Ineos Grenadiers coming through unscathed and even going on the attack through a section of crosswinds.

The team’s aggression came to nothing at the finish with Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) winning his first ever Tour stage and Geraint Thomas looking forward to Monday’s third and final rest day.

“It was hot out there and tough going but we had plenty of ice and water. We managed to deal with it ok. I felt okay and I wasn’t suffering too much in it but any more and it would have been different. Especially when the roads were melting,” Thomas said as he put on an ice vest outside the Ineos team bus.

The Welshman sits third overall in the race, best of the rest behind leader Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and second placed Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates). After two weeks of racing Thomas is certainly well-placed and he has raced intelligently through a tricky first week and then into the Alps. The Pyrenees are still to come and three back-breaking days in the mountains that will go a long way to deciding this year’s race.

“It’s all to race for. It’s going to be tough with those two in front but it’s nice to be ahead of the rest. I’m more looking ahead but you have to be aware of what’s behind you. There are three big days in the Pyrenees but I’ll enjoy tomorrow,” he said.

Also read:  Tour de France: Geraint Thomas unruffled by Tadej Pogačar’s early antics but loses ground on GC

At the finish in Carcassonne, the Ineos leader was asked about a possible alliance between himself and Pogačar, who has lost several teammates to COVID-19 and could do with any assistance possible in order to try and crack Vingegaard. The Slovenian apparently came to Thomas on stage 14 to declare that Jumbo-Visma were on the ropes but he was quickly ushered away by the older Ineos rider.

Ineos still has a full quota of riders, and Adam Yates looking comfortable in fifth overall. It’s possibly the strongest overall team left in the race, and an easy match for Pogačar’s limping team but Thomas played down the idea of working with one rival in order to dislodge another.

“We’ll see how the race develops. I don’t think he’ll be calling me the night before and we’ll be planning something but if it happens on the road then it happens.”

Vingegaard certainly had a difficult day on stage 15. He lost Primoz Roglič after the Slovenian decided to pull out and concentrate on the Vuelta a España, while another climbing domestique, Steven Kruijswijk, hit the deck and abandoned. Vingegaard also took a tumble on his left hand side, although he made it to the finish with the lead group.

“It’s not great for them, to lose two guys. Roglič okay he might have been suffering but he rode well yesterday and then Steven Kruijswijk he’s been going well when the road goes uphill. They’ll miss them but they’ve got a strong team still. It’s going to make them a little weaker.”