WINCE OF WALES
Tour de Chaos for Thomas as crash opens door to key rivals
GERAINT THOMAS lost ground after a crash left team-mate Gianni Moscon’s machine snapped in half on Brokebike Mountain.
And on a chaotic day at the Tour de France, Michal Kwiatkowski’s machine was mistakenly confiscated by a gendarme.
Defending champion Thomas, who escaped with cuts and bruises from a crash in his warm-up race in Switzerland – and came to grief again in last weekend’s Grand Depart – cut a frustrated figure after he slipped 1min 12sec behind leader Julian Alaphilippe in the Yellow Jersey.
Around 10 miles from the finish of a bumpy 124-mile run from Macon to SaintEtienne, Thomas had nowhere to go when Canadian Michael Woods and Moscon collided on a tight bend in front of him.
Thomas tangled with team-mate Moscon, whose bike was a write-off, and when Ineos all-rounder Kwiatkowski stopped to help, a policeman tried to take his wheels, believing it was also damaged.
Although he rode valiantly to catch the leading group behind stage winner Thomas de Gendt, Thomas was so “gassed” by his effort playing catch-up that Thibaut Pinot and Alaphilippe both attacked on the last of seven categorised climbs.
The French duo, who collected bonus seconds, put around half a minute into
Struggling to contain his exasperation as he warmed down afterwards, the
Prince of Wheels said: “I’m fine but it was just so frustrating because the crash happened at a key moment of the race.
“Woodsy crashed, took out Gianni and me, and I got tangled up in Gianni’s bike a bit. By the time I got up to the group, I was gassed for a bit and that’s when they started to sprint away.
“But to come back the way I did is pleasing and at least shows I’ve got the legs.
“If I hadn’t crashed, I could have followed the other guys and then it’s a totally different story. I’m just really frustrated to be involved in another crash, and I’m thinking, ‘Come on...’
“But Pinot and Alaphilippe are riding really well, they have a good kick and they are definitely the guys to watch and beat.”
Kwiatkowski said: “Gianni’s bike was destroyed, and maybe mine looked like it had been destroyed – a policeman took it away and it was very difficult to get back on.”
Thomas remains fifth in the GC standings, with Ineos team-mate Egan Bernal four seconds back in sixth.
Today’s stage nine is another hilly trek, 106 miles from Saint-Etienne to Brioude.