Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Tour de France Rest Day 1: Froome and Thomas reflect on yesterday's brutal stage

Team Sky riders speak about a day that saw one tighten grip on yellow but the other crash out of race

Team Sky's Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas have been reflecting on yesterday's dramatic Stage 9 of the race that saw the defending champion tighten his grip on the yellow jersey but lose his chief lieutenant in this year's race crash out - as did one of his chief rivals, Richie Porte.

Since Porte departed for BMC Racing 18 months ago, Thomas has assumed the role of being Froome's key helper in the mountains, and has also had a spell in the yellow jersey himself after winning the opening time trial of this year's race in Dusseldorf.

But on the descent of the Col de la Biche yesterday - the first of three Hors-Category climbs on the 181.5-kilometre stage from Nantua to Chambery - Thomas was brought down after Bora-Hansgrohe's Rafal Majka crashed and is out of the race with a broken collarbone.

Froome finished third and now leads the race by 18 seconds from Astana's Fabio Aru on a day when - besides Porte's departure - rivals including Movistar's Nairo Quintana, Dan Martin of Quick Step Floors, who was unable to avoid the stricken Porte and came down himself, and Alberto Contador of Trek Segafredo all lost time.

Unusually, on today's first rest day of the race, Team Sky are no hosting a press conference - something Guardian cycling correspondent William Fotheringham said he could not recall a team doing in the three decades he has been covering the race.

Instead, it has emailed through quotes from Froome and Thomas. Here they are.

Froome: Thomas departure "a massive blow to the team"

"It was definitely a mix of emotions. Coming to the finish I was obviously grateful to get there in yellow and to pick up a few bonus seconds on the finish line – extending my lead to Fabio Aru and my other main rivals. But in the same breath it was a day full of incident, first of all with Geraint Thomas going down off the Col de la Biche and breaking his collarbone.

"It’s a massive blow to the team. Not only was Geraint sitting second on GC going into the rest day, but he’s also a key helper for me in the mountains when the race is really on. We’re definitely going to miss him in the next half of the race, but obviously first and foremost we’re all just thinking of G and hoping he heals up quick."

On incident with Fabio Aru: "Any suggestion that it was on purpose is just crazy"

Besides the crashes yesterday, another talking point was Aru's attack on the Mont du Chat when Froome sustained a mechanical, and a subsequent exchange between the pair in which the race leader seemed to force the Italian national champion off the road.

The latter incident resulted in some people on social media comparing it to the one involving Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish last week that resulted in the world champion being disqualified from the race, and Froome would doubtless have faced questioning over it had a press conference gone ahead today.

He said: "It was clear to me I had to change bikes straight away and it appeared that Fabio Aru accelerated at that moment.

"I think certainly in the peloton there’s a bit of an unwritten rule that when the race leader has some kind of an issue that prevents him from racing, then the group doesn’t take advantage of a situation like that. So I’m really grateful to them for sitting up and easing the pace for a few moments while I was able to change the bike and get back.

"I think Richie was instrumental in that so, again, thank you to Richie for that."

He continued: "Once I got back to the group I think the very next hairpin we went round I lost my balance a little bit and swerved to the right.

"Aru happened to be on my right and he had to swerve as well. It was a genuine mistake and I think Fabio was the first to recognise that.

"I apologised straight away on the road as soon as it happened. Any suggestion that it was on purpose is just crazy - first of all it’s not anything I would ever do, and I was already on my spare bike, so to risk putting my derailleur into Aru’s front wheel – it’s just crazy. I wouldn’t risk that at all."

"The images of Richie's crash were just absolutely horrific"

Froome also spoke about the crash that took the man many considered to be his biggest rival this year - his close friend and former Team Sky colleague, BMC Racing's Richie Porte - out of the race.

The images of Richie’s crash were just absolutely horrific," he said. "I only saw them at the podium area and it just left me stunned.

"I got in touch with Richie after the race. He’s pretty badly injured with a fractured pelvis, collarbone and concussion, I think, but at the same time I’m just thankful it wasn’t more serious because it really did look awful.

"When something like that happens it does put bike racing into context," Froome went on. 

"We’re all putting everything on the line, but when you see a friend getting badly hurt in that way it reminds you of what is really important.

"I know myself and the whole team wish him a quick recovery."

"The weekend has been a really tough block for everyone"

Looking ahead to next week - the race resumes tomorrow with a sprinter-friendly stage into Bergerac - Froome said: "The weekend has been a really tough block for everyone and will have taken its toll, so we’ll all really be soaking up this rest day.

"Certainly the next two days for the GC riders will be on mainly flatter roads and should be controlled by the sprinters’ teams.

"I’m looking ahead to the next week of racing. I think even though we’re a man down now I think the team is in great spirits and we’re in a good position to defend the Yellow Jersey."

Meanwhile, Thomas reflected on the disappointment of having to abandon his second successive Grand Tour, as he had been forced to do during May's Giro d'Italia - and also posted a picture to Instagram showing the damage his jersey sustained yesterday.

Thomas: "It still hasn't really sunk in"

"It still hasn’t really sunk in," he said. "I’m sure it will be like the Giro and when I get home is when it really hits home so to speak. When you start seeing results and getting the Team Sky text messages through about who has done what on the stage. The show goes on pretty quickly. So I think it will hit me tomorrow and in a few days’ time.

"At the moment it’s more just the devastation of leaving the Tour – but obviously you’ve got to remember and savour the good times because they are rare in this sport. For sure in a week or so or once the Tour is over I’ll look back on those good bits. But for the moment it’s still pretty raw.

"It’s all learning I guess and it’s given me the confidence in the training I’ve been doing," he continued. "All that hard work has got me into the position to do well. I didn’t fully reap the benefits of it but I can still take a lot from that."

"I’m going to see a specialist on Tuesday and get it operated on this week. I’ll have a week off and then I should be back on the turbo trainer. I’m in no massive rush to get back anyway.

"We’ll decide what the programme will be in a week or so’s time once the dust has settled," he added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Add new comment


Mungecrundle | 7 years ago
1 like

A reminder if any were needed that this is not a nice cycle ride through the best parts of France (and other countries) but a brutal contest with riders on the limit and giving their all supported by teams who are similarly commited.

Cycling is not without its problems with respect to finding new ways to push the limits of what is pharmacologically acceptable if not outright cheating, but in what other sport would competitors effectively neutralise the race whilst the leader gets a technical difficulty sorted?

1961BikiE | 7 years ago

TBH no real surprise that SKY opted out of a press conference this time. We all know the insesant questions on dropping they've had to fend off for the last 5 years and that was before jiffybag-gate. I'm not saying it's good (or bad) just understandable.

BehindTheBikesheds | 7 years ago
1 like

Fucks-sakes, could have put a spoiler alert in the title instead of letting us know the results ...

Latest Comments