By Ian Gordon
Riding the 27km individual time trial with his right shoulder still heavily strapped after dislocating it on stage three on Monday, 2018 Tour champ Thomas knew he was in for a tough time on the road to Laval.
Thomas’s time of 33:18 was obviously slower than he would have expected before the crash, but a commendable effort given the circumstances.
The time was good enough for 16th on the stage but the 35-year-old still finished a massive 1:18 down on defending champ Tadej Pogacar who looks the man to beat over the next couple of weeks.
“It’s certainly wide open,” insisted Thomas, who moved up six places to 12th overall, but 1:54 down on the Slovenian.
— Geraint Thomas (@GeraintThomas86) June 30, 2021
“Obviously, Pogačar is in the strongest position, but, as we’ve seen the first few days, a lot can happen and change.
“It’s open – all to play for. I rode the best TT I could really.
“I went out conservative, maybe a little too conservative, but it’s just what I had really.
“It didn’t feel 100per cent but I don’t want to bang on about that. I just tried to do what I could and it wasn’t enough.
“I think it was decent enough pacing, just not enough power really.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I woke up this morning and felt terrible, but once I got going and loosened up a bit it was better.
“It was just one of those things. Just got to crack on and deal with it. Just keep fighting I guess.”
Thomas did get the better of his Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Richard Carapaz by 26 secs after the Ecuadorian was heavily tipped to stake his own Yellow Jersey credentials.
The Cardiff-born rider is now just 10 secs behind Carapaz in the General Classification.
Pogacar took the stage honours in 32:00 to win by by 19 secs from Switzerland’s Stefan Kung, but it was just not quite enough to snatch the Yellow Jersey.
Mathieu Van der Poel clung onto that by finishing with the fifth fastest time, 30 secs down, to lead overall by just eight secs.
But it looks like it will need something sensational to stop Pogacar – still only 22 – dominating and turning the Tour into a battle for the minor podium placings.