LONGWY, France (AFP) — Yellow jersey wearer Geraint Thomas will be looking to stay out of trouble on Tuesday as a bunch sprint finish is expected at the Tour de France.
Thomas and his Sky team leader Chris Froome, the reigning champion, were both taken down in a crash on a wet and slippery bend 30km from the end of Sunday’s second stage, which ended in a bunch sprint.
On flat stages which favour the sprinters, the run-in to the finish is usually very fast, and when it’s wet like on Sunday, that increases the perils for riders.
“It looks like another bunch sprint, we’ll try to stay up front and out of trouble, but saying that a crash happened (on Sunday) — there’s not a lot you can do about that,” said Thomas.
He took the race leader’s yellow jersey in Saturday’s opening stage time-trial but his main job is to help Froome in his bid for a fourth Tour victory. Froome is currently second behind Thomas overall with another Sky teammate, Michal Kwiatkowski eighth, making it a great start to the Tour for the British team.
“Touch wood, we’ve all been riding really well together,” said Thomas. “We still have the (yellow) jersey, it’s been a great start but there are still 18 days to go and a lot of bike racing to come.”
The peloton’s fast men will feel refreshed by Tuesday’s fourth stage finish following Monday’s tough, short climb.
It’s an almost pan flat stage of 207.5km that starts in Luxembourg and finishes in the town of Vittel, known mostly for its bottled water and thermal baths.
It’s also the site of one of the top spa resorts in France and has a no pesticide policy around its water resources, making it an ideal place to relax after a tough stage of racing, even if the riders decline to try the local speciality: frog tart.
As well as the battle for the stage win that should see Mark Cavendish, André Greipel and world champion Peter Sagan rub shoulders with German powerhouse Marcel Kittel, the green jersey will be in play too.
Kittel holds it but with 50 points on offer to the stage winner, others including Frenchman Arnaud Démare and Sagan will have designs of ridding the Quick-Step rider of his prize.
With the sun out and only a small amount of cloud cover, temperatures of just over 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20C), it made for ideal racing weather.