WINCE OF WALES

Tour de Chaos for Thomas as crash opens door to key ri­vals

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Sports - By MIKE WAL­TERS @MikeWal­ter­sMGM

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

Thomas.

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.

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