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Geraint Thomas followed the right wheels and rolled back the years on the stage 7 Super Planche to climb three places on GC and reinforce Ineos Grenadiers’ four-prong play in its quest to crack Tadej Pogačar at the Tour de France.
The Welshman kicked for fifth behind stage-winner Pogačar as the race returned to the climb where he thrived in 2019.
“I’d like to say I was holding back …. I rode the climb,” a sweat-sodden Thomas said at the summit.
“I tried to hold back a bit at the start, because it’s so steep at the end – you don’t want to blow there. I think I judged it alight, it’s just a shame Roglič came past me in the end, but it’s nice to be there in the mix.”
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Adam Yates teetered to the line just 15 seconds after Thomas, meaning Ineos Grenadiers comes out of the first climbing showdown of the Tour with its two top aces poised third and fourth overall at 1:10 and 1:18 respectively.
New #TDF2022 GC after stage seven:
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) July 8, 2022
With Pogačar looking unstoppable on cobblestones, short kicking climbs, and the super steep gravel slopes of stage 7 on Friday, the British supersquad needs all the tricks in its sleeve to magic its Tour de France crown back from Slovenian soil.
Tom Pidcock and Dani Martínez both lost the wheels in the explosive scramble for the summit Friday, but remain in range in the top-10 to give Ineos Grenadiers a full deck for ambushes and strategic maneuvering in the weeks to come.
“It’s good that we’re all there,” Thomas said. “We’ll try to use those numbers but sensibly, not just attacking for the hell of it. We want to try to use those numbers well and see what we can do.”
Ineos Grenadiers will need every card possible to stop a peerless Pogačar as he begins his march toward a third-straight Tour title.