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SAINT-JEAN-DE-MAURIENNE, France (VN) — The only GC prize Geraint Thomas is worried about is securing the yellow jersey for Sky teammate Chris Froome in Paris on Sunday, not his own podium chances.
Poised in fourth-place overall, at 2:25 behind third-place rider Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Thomas once again was digging deep to protect Froome’s lead in Thursday’s wild ride across the Alps.
“It’s all about Froomey,” Thomas told VeloNews. “To be honest, I think [Alberto] Contador and [Vincenzo] Nibali will end up passing me before we hit Paris anyway.”
Thomas is in the best GC position of career, climbing with the favorites deep into the mountain stages, and bolstering his candidacy as a future stage-race leader for Team Sky. But he makes no bones about what his priorities are during the final two climbing stages in the Alps.
“I just got to do my job. If the other boys end up doing their job, like they have been, my job comes a bit later, and that gives me the best chance to hold onto the GC,” Thomas continued. “If they’re not there, and I’ve got to ride straight from the bottom of the climb. I’ll do it, and that will probably mean I will lose my GC.”
Thomas has brushed off any ill effects of his harrowing crash on the descent off the Col de Manse on Monday, and was once again in the thick of the action in Thursday’s tricky stage. Valverde was dropped on the hors-categorie Col du Glandon, but paced back onto the front group for the frenetic finale to secure his third-place position.
Froome was effusive about Thomas’s performance so far in this Tour, yet echoed that the priority is yellow.
“It would be a dream for us to have two Sky riders on the podium in Paris, but the yellow jersey is the main focus,” Froome said. “Geraint [Thomas] has ridden fantastically for me. He’s been there in the first week, in the Pyrénées, every step of the way.”
With Contador hovering in fifth overall, at 7:39 back, Thomas has a bit of a buffer to the explosive Spanish climber. Nibali is in seventh at 8:04 back. Thomas knows it’s no guarantee he will even keep fourth.
“As long as Froomey brings home that yellow jersey, that’s all that matters,” Thomas said as he cooled down on the rollers post-stage.