First place con­fus­ing for yel­low-clad Thomas

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Geraint Thomas ad­mit­ted he won’t know where to ride in the pelo­ton yesterday as he wears the cov­eted Tour de France yel­low jersey for the first time.

The 31-year-old Bri­ton was a sur­prise winner of Satur­day’s first stage time-trial in Dusseldorf and will look to hold onto yel­low dur­ing Sun­day’s 203.5km sec­ond stage that fin­ishes in Liege, Bel­gium. But Thomas said he wasn’t sure where to po­si­tion him­self along the route now that he is in yel­low. The Welsh­man’s role at this Tour is to help pro­tect Sky team leader and reigning cham­pion Chris Froome, which means he would usu­ally have the three-time Tour winner sit­ting on his back wheel. Yet, as the yel­low jersey wearer, it would nor­mally be up to his team to pro­tect him.

“I’m just go­ing to en­joy to­mor­row (Sun­day) and any ex­tra day in the jersey,” said Thomas af­ter his vic­tory on Satur­day. “It’s a mas­sive bonus but it doesn’t change the goal, which is to ride for Froomey. I’m just go­ing to en­joy it.”

He added: “I don’t know where I’ll rideit’s just crazy, an amaz­ing feel­ing!” Sun­day’s stage is al­most en­tirely flat de­spite pass­ing through the Ar­dennes re­gion of Bel­gium known for its hills.

Tour or­gan­is­ers ASO said they had de­lib­er­ately avoided the hills to give sprint­ers the chance “to come to the fore”. It means that the day’s break­away will likely be doomed from the mo­ment the rid­ers get away as the sprint­ers’ teams try to set up a bunch fin­ish where they can ma­noeu­vre their fast men into the ideal po­si­tion to strike. The likes of Ger­man pow­er­house Mar­cel Kit­tel and Bri­tish speed­ster Mark Cavendish, who sits sec­ond on the all-time list of Tour stage wins, should be in the mix.

Kit­tel and world cham­pion Peter Sa­gan may also have de­signs on claim­ing the yel­low jersey. They fin­ished 16 and 25 sec­onds re­spec­tively off Thomas’s time on Satur­day, and with time bonuses on the line for the top three fin­ish­ers on ev­ery stage, ei­ther could con­ceiv­ably wrench the yel­low jersey from Thomas be­fore Wed­nes­day’s fifth stage and the first moun­tain sum­mit fin­ish where the over­all con­tenders should take over at the top of the standings. Kit­tel was cer­tainly feel­ing bullish, say­ing on Twit­ter: “Now it’s our turn!”

Yesterday’s stage should fea­ture a fast and fran­tic start with many rid­ers bat­tling to get into the break­away, par­tic­u­larly with the first king of the moun­tains points avail­able just six kilo­me­tres into the stage, mean­ing the polka­dot jersey will be claimed by the first rider to crest that short, 1.4km long Grafen­berg climb. —AFP

DUSSELDORF: Great Bri­tain’s Geraint Thomas cel­e­brates his over­all leader yel­low jersey on the podium at the end of the 203.5 km sec­ond stage of the 104th edi­tion of the Tour de France cycling race yesterday be­tween Dusseldorf, Germany and Liege, Bel­gium. — AFP

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