BRUSSELS (VN) — Despite a high-speed crash in the closing kilometers of Saturday’s opening stage of the Tour de France stage, defending champion Geraint Thomas (Ineos) considers himself “fine.”
The Welshman, racing to defend his 2018 title, fell in the final two kilometers of the stage in Brussels. Afterwards, he finished and rode to the bus, showing a chain ring mark and some scrapes on his right side.
“I’m fine,” Thomas explained. “It was just one of those things.”
The mechanic straightened his right brake hood and prepared Thomas’s bike for the warm down. Thomas rode the 2013 Tour de France with a fractured hip, so for him, the fall may seem like nothing.
“It was 3K to go so we were slowly drifting back just to try to get some space if there is a crash and we avoided it but just ran out of road. So it happened because the barriers were sticking out as well,” Thomas continued.
“I’m fine. I just toppled over. So yeah, it’s all good.”
Thomas arrived at the bus in his burgundy team kit. Co-leader Egan Bernal had already arrived and climbed onto the bus. Thomas stepped onto the bus for five minutes of attention before exiting to warm down on his stationary trainer.
“I gave myself enough space, I avoided the actual crash, but with the barriers, I had no where to go,” explained Thomas.
“The main thing is that it didn’t do any damage. The bike took the hit and then I just toppled over.”
The crash marks Thomas’s second in as many months. In June Thomas crashed in the Tour de Suisse and had to abandon before the race even entered the mountains. He was fine, but this Tour marks his first event in 18 days.
“To win the Tour you not only need strong legs and a strong team but you also need luck.”
“It was just good to get back into the groove with the boys,” Thomas continued.
Crashes have already caused havoc for the Team Ineos squad. Ahead of the Tour de France, Chris Froome crashed while training for the Critérium du Dauphiné time trial. He could not continue or participate for a fifth Tour title with a broken femur.
And last year, Froome and Bernal were both held up by crashes in the opening stage of the race. Froome lost 51 seconds. Ineos knows the dangers and races on high alert in these early stages before the peloton reaches the mountains.
“There was a lot of tension,” said Bernal of Saturday’s stage. “I was behind the crash and I stayed out of trouble.
Thomas said it felt good to get the opening stage out of the way.
“We are riding well at the front always and communication was good and we started on the front foot.
“I’m just happy to get [stage 1] out of the way, one down, 20 to go.”
Much more will be known tomorrow in the 27.7km team time trial in Brussels. It is slightly technical though the capital’s streets where the locals celebrate 50 years since Eddy Merckx’s first Tour win. Thomas looks ahead to the “big day” to gain time.
“It’s a big day,” Thomas added.
“We’ll go 100% tomorrow and try to win the stage but there are a lot of other good teams.”