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Geraint Thomas Braced For Uphill Task On A Long, Painful Friday

By Gareth James

Geraint Thomas has admitted he’s in for a long, tough Friday when the Giro d’Italia hits the Alps.

The race leader is expecting to be put to the sternest test in the mountains, but has backed his Ineos Grenadiers teammates to enable him to stay in the pink jersey.

Germany’s Nico Denz won stage 12 of the Giro in Rivoli after outsprinting Latvia’s Toms Skujins to the finish line as Thomas remained as overall leader.

Welsh superstar Thomas took the leader’s jersey after the withdrawal of race leader Remco Evenepoel due to a positive Covid-19 test on Sunday.

The Cardiff rider made no bid to impact on the breakaway group on Thursday, which did not include any general classification contenders, and was grateful for the support of his team-mates.

Thomas said: “Obviously Pavel Sivakov rode very well today despite his crash yesterday.

“He’s definitely in a good shape. Hopefully it’s all good tomorrow in Switzerland and I can defend the Maglia Rosa the same way I won the Tour de Suisse before.

“There’s definitely a lot going on tomorrow. I think it’s the first big test, we have three big climbs. Well, it depends on what we actually do, because I’ve heard rumours it could be adapted because of the weather.

“But we’ll tackle whatever’s in front of us, try to stay warm as possible, that’s key tomorrow.

“The final climb is a tough one. We haven’t raced really to the top of a climb yet, it will be a big test for the whole peloton, especially for the GC guys, to race up and see where we’re all at.

“Coming from Wales, I’m used to the cold and wet, so hopefully, it doesn’t affect me too much. We took a blow yesterday, but we bounced back well. The morale is high, and we’re super motivated to get a good result tomorrow.”

“I think the best way for me to get from the bottom to the top of a climb quickest is kind of to treat it like a time trial sometimes. But ultimately, you kind of have to adapt to the race.”

Denz had too much power for his rival at the end of the mainly flat 185-kilometre stage, which started in Bra, after the pair formed part of a five-man breakaway with 92km to go.

BORA-hansgrohe rider Denz, Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) and Australia’s Sebastian Berwick, who finished third, had pulled clear of the leading group, together with Italy’s Alessandro Tonelli (Green Project Bardiani).

Tonelli fell away with 32km to go but held on to finish fourth, while Giro leader Thomas came home safely in the peloton to maintain his two-second lead over Primoz Roglic in the general classification.

Denz said after his first Grand Tour stage win: “It’s really big for me. I’m super proud. I was not supposed to be in the break. It was up to Patrick Konrad and Bob Jungels.

“But Bob said he wasn’t at his best and he preferred to save energy to help Lennard Kamna (on Friday) so I had to replace him at the front.

“When I looked around me in the breakaway there were only monsters. Cooperation in the breakaway was very bad, then I found myself at the front on the last climb. Then I knew the finale. I had it in my mind. So I could sprint the way I wanted.”

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