NÎMES, France (VN) — Geraint Thomas (Ineos) sits second overall in the 2019 Tour de France, but has had to survive several crashes to maintain his spot. On stage 16, a 177km stage to Nîmes, he crashed for the third time in this year’s race.
Thomas remains the race favorite for many; he sits second, 1:35 behind Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), heading into the Alps on Thursday. But he cannot seem to avoid crashing.
“Sometimes,” Thomas said when asked if he had bad luck in the Tour. “But it was just such a freak thing. I’m all right.”
Television cameras showed the 2018 Tour winner crash with 129km kilometers left in stage 16. He fell on his left side heading into a right-hand bend with his teammates. It added to the crashes he took in stages 1 and 8.
The “freak” incident occurred when Thomas’s gears jammed. Only the defending Tour champ crashed; his teammate and co-leader Egan Bernal, who sits fifth overall, slipped by on the outside.
“No [injuries], I just took off an old scar, so that’s why so much bleeding,” he continued. “I just had one hand on the bars and then the gears jumped and jammed. And I just got thrown off my bike, basically, on a corner.”
Thomas quickly got to his feet. By that time, the team car arrived with a new bike. The mechanic pushed him off and with the help of his teammates, he rejoined the race. Afterward, he saw the race doctor, but there were no substantial injuries.
Thomas will need to survive one more stage to Gap tomorrow when sauna-like conditions are expected, before he reaches the climbing stages. Then, he and the rest of the Tour peloton will face three tough Alpine stages.
So far, the crashes have not affected the Welshman, but it is unclear how today’s crash will affect his condition, if it does so at all.
“I think it’ll be another hot, tough day tomorrow,” said Thomas. “I don’t think [this will affect me for the mountains]. I feel fine. It’s just new skin, like a new scar, that came off, so it looks worse than what it was.”
In a separate incident, another pre-race favorite, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), was forced to abandon due to injuries he sustained to his wrist and hand.