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Only a few days ago, the stage 5 time trial at the Tour de France looked like an opportunity for Geraint Thomas to build his case as a yellow jersey contender, but things didn’t really play out as well on Wednesday as Thomas would have been expecting before the Tour. Two days removed from a dislocated shoulder sustained in a crash on stage 3, Thomas finished the stage 1:18 down on stage winner and overall favorite Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates).
After the time trial, Thomas confirmed what was apparent to anyone watching as he lost that time out on the road: He wasn’t feeling his best.
“I think I rode the best TT I could, I went out a little too conservative – it’s what I had really,” Thomas said. “Obviously, I didn’t feel 100% but I don’t want to bang on about that, I tried to do what I could and it wasn’t enough really.”
Thomas said that his recent TT ride at the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he started fast but then faded, was on his mind on Wednesday.
“The Dauphine time trial was definitely in my mind and I knew on this course there was no real room to recover if you went out too hard as there weren’t too many downhill, so I tried to ride a bit more flatline,” he said. “I think it was decent enough pacing, but not enough power.”
When fully healthy, Thomas would likely be one of the strongest TT riders in this Tour, having put in several big rides against the clock in the race in the past, including in 2017 when he won the stage 1 TT and in 2018 when his strong performance on the stage 20 TT helped seal his overall win. The painful injury he suffered on Monday, however, raised question marks about how well he would ride on Wednesday.
He did still manage to finish 16th on the stage and ahead of plenty of GC types, no mean feat of course, but his time was well short of Pogačar’s mark as well as being 34 seconds slower than that of Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), who was also hampered by injuries.
Thomas said that he started to feel better over the course of his effort, but he was starting on the back foot. Nonetheless, he plans to continue looking ahead.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I woke up this morning and felt terrible, to be honest but once I got going and loosened a bit I felt better,” he said. “It’s just one of those things, I’ve just got to crack on and deal with it and just keep fighting I guess.”
Just five days into the race, Thomas is already 1:46 back on Pogačar in the general classification. His teammate Richard Carapaz is 10 seconds closer to Pogačar’s GC lead, but the deficit remains a hefty one; in short, this isn’t what the Ineos Grenadiers had in mind when they set out from Brest on Saturday.