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ÉCHALLENS, Switzerland (VN) — Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) was left counting the cost, both financial and in terms of time, at the Tour de Romandie after officials slapped him with two penalties in a single stage.
The defending Romandie champion was fined CHF200 for urinating in public view during stage 1, and then more importantly docked 20 seconds for taking an illegal feed with less than 20km remaining on the same stage. Frustratingly for Thomas, had the feed taken place just a few hundred meters down the road he would have been OK but the time loss sent him from a podium place to 24th overall. After three days of racing, the former Tour de France winner is now 34 seconds in arrears of the current race leader and overall favorite Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma).
“It was one for pissing but I thought I got it all back in on time,” Thomas told VeloNews at the finish of stage 2.
“Obviously not. I was doing it on the move and that’s just one of those things and it’s my fault.”
Riders are not allowed to take assistance from the team car or from team staff inside the final 20km of racing, and Thomas acknowledged that the team had made a mistake.
“The time penalty was frustrating. Twenty seconds is a lot. I was 400m inside 20km to go. I thought nothing of it because you see a feed zone with your team and you think nothing of it. They were too close to the finish, and it’s a bit of a ‘balls-up’ from the team. These things happen. There’s nothing we can do. Twenty seconds seems a lot but apparently, the commissaires said some teams were complaining. I don’t know if that’s them passing the buck or not but they’re the rules, so it is what it is.”
Thomas came into the race in decent form and his fourth-place finish in the opening prologue was his best result of the season so far. The time penalty will have a major impact on his overall ambitions, especially with only one proper mountain stage and a final uphill time trial to decide the race.
“It makes it harder, especially as I’m not tip-top. Every second counts so again it’s unfortunate but hopefully I’ll have good legs at the weekend. If I end up losing the race by a couple of seconds I might be a bit more annoyed,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ time loss aside, the fact remains that Dennis is in his best climbing form since 2020. He attacked on the uphill finish and came within a whisker of taking the win. The Australian believes that he still has weight to lose before he’s at his optimum climbing best, but Thomas countered that by suggesting that his former teammate was simply trying to play down his own chances. In Thomas’ view, Dennis is the rider to beat this week.
“He’s definitely in great shape and for me, he’s the favorite from the whole field. For him to do what he did yesterday, he’s got really good form and good legs. He’s talking himself down a bit but I think he’s just trying to take a bit of the pressure off. I think he’ll climb really well on Saturday and that it will be hard to get rid of him. Then it’s all on the uphill TT. There are a lot of good climbers and it will be interesting. He’s my favorite though.”