A bizarre uphill crash threw a wrench into Geraint Thomas‘ chance to sprint for his first stage win since the 2018 Tour de France on Saturday.
The Ineos Grenadiers captain was shoulder to shoulder with Michael Woods and kicking for the line only for his right hand to slip from his rain-sodden brake lever, leaving him to somersault to the ground.
“I had no feeling in my hands and I tried to change gear but instead I just lost the bars,” Thomas said after the stage. “It’s so frustrating because even if I had just stayed in that gear and come second … but to deck it there, I feel like a whopper.”
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Thomas was quick to get back onto his bike and finished third on the stage. While he was unhurt, he was visibly frustrated in the post-race interview after ceding his opportunity to move into the race-leader’s jersey ahead of the final stage Sunday.
Woods had accelerated for the line as Thomas fell to the rain-soaked road of the Thyon summit finish to claim the win and the leader’s jersey.
It was Woods’ second victory of the season and some compensation for a standout Ardennes campaign where he narrowly missed the podium twice. The Canadian said that while he was pleased to win, he’d have rather it worked out differently.
“I was close several times and really felt like a big win was coming, and this certainly was it,” Woods said. “I’m really proud of how I raced today … I didn’t want to take the jersey the way I did, I didn’t want ‘G’ to go down, but it’s really cool to be wearing the [leader’s] jersey tomorrow.”
Woods holds a slender 11-second margin over Thomas ahead of the final stage Sunday, a rolling 16-kilometer time trial in Fribourg.
Thomas put nearly one minute into his Canadian rival at the last time trial they both raced, the 18km stage of the Volta a Catalunya in March. The Welshman is now odds-on favorite to claim the final leader’s jersey, and he sure won’t be short of motivation Sunday.
“I’m fine, it’s just frustration after such a hard day to lose it like that at the end,” Thomas said of Saturday’s sprint. “It’s really frustrating.”
— Greg Ienco (@GregIenco) May 1, 2021