Yellow jersey Thomas keen to stay safe in bunch sprint

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Yellow jersey wearer Geraint Thomas will be look­ing to stay out of trou­ble as a bunch sprint fin­ish is ex­pected at the Tour de France. Thomas and his Sky team leader Chris Froome, the reign­ing cham­pion, were both taken down in a crash on a wet and slip­pery bend 30km from the end of Sun­day’s sec­ond stage, which ended in a bunch sprint. On flat stages which favour the sprint­ers, the run-in to the fin­ish is usu­ally very fast, and when it’s wet like on Sun­day, that in­creases the per­ils for rid­ers.

“It looks like an­other bunch sprint, we’ll try to stay up front and out of trou­ble, but say­ing that a crash hap­pened (on Sun­day) — there’s not a lot you can do about that,” said Thomas. He took the race leader’s yellow jersey in Satur­day’s open­ing stage time-trial but his main job is to help Froome in his bid for a fourth Tour vic­tory.

Froome is cur­rently sec­ond be­hind Thomas over­all with an­other Sky team­mate, Michal Kwiatkowski eighth, mak­ing it a great start to the Tour for the Bri­tish team.

“Touch wood, we’ve all been rid­ing re­ally well to­gether,” said Thomas. “We still have the (yellow) jersey, it’s been a great start but there are still 18 days to go and a lot of bike rac­ing to come.” The pelo­ton’s fast men will feel re­freshed by Tues­day’s fourth stage fin­ish fol­low­ing Mon­day’s tough, short climb.

It’s an al­most pan flat stage of 207.5km that starts in Lux­em­bourg and fin­ishes in the town of Vit­tel, known mostly for its bot­tled wa­ter and ther­mal baths. It’s also the site of one of the top spa re­sorts in France and has a no pes­ti­cide pol­icy around its wa­ter re­sources, mak­ing it an ideal place to re­lax af­ter a tough stage of rac­ing, even if the rid­ers de­cline to try the lo­cal spe­cial­ity: frog tart. As well as the bat­tle for the stage win that should see Mark Cavendish, An­dre Greipel and world cham­pion Peter Sa­gan rub shoul­ders with Ger­man pow­er­house Mar­cel Kit­tel, the green jersey will be in play too. Kit­tel holds it but with 50 points on of­fer to the stage win­ner, oth­ers in­clud­ing French­man Ar­naud De­marre and Sa­gan will have de­signs of rid­ding the Quick-Step rider of his prize.

With the sun out and only a small amount of cloud cover, tem­per­a­tures of just over 20 de­grees Cel­sius, it made for ideal rac­ing weather. — AFP

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