Geraint Thomas crosses the finish line in Peyragudes. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Geraint Thomas wants what they’re having for breakfast

Geraint Thomas is even more in third place than he was before.

Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.

Jump To Comments

For 17 stages of this Tour de France, Geraint Thomas has been riding his own race. For 17 stages, Geraint Thomas has watched Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard surge up the road, maintaining an unsteady detente. 

In that sense, stage 17 into Peyragudes held this Tour’s equilibrium, even if the Welshman lost 2:13 on the yellow jersey. He was in third place before. He’s even more in third place now, having lost time to the two “whippersnappers” and gained it on almost everyone else.

Almost five minutes back, Thomas won’t win this Tour, but he’s a day closer to locking in a podium finish, having ridden a consistent, unflappable race. 

An awareness of his strengths and limitations has been Thomas’s thread through the last two weeks. When the road tilts upwards and Pogačar stings his rivals, with Vingegaard locked on his wheel, the 2018 champ has the self-awareness and experience to ride his way back into the race rather than reacting his way out of it. “I don’t even attempt to kick when they go,” he said a few days ago. 

The gap was bigger today, but Thomas’s measurement of his effort was characteristically insightful. 

 “I felt alright, but didn’t feel quite as light on the pedals as earlier in the race,” the Welshman said, shortly after crossing the line and making his way up to his team bus. With UAE Team Emirates driving the pace on the front up the Col de Val Louron – first with Mikkel Bjerg, then with an imposing Brandon McNulty – Thomas had a choice to make. He chose defence, rather than attack. 

“[Bjerg] put in a hell of a shift for the kind of rider he is – it was cracking me, actually, that he was hurting me as much as he was,” Thomas said. Next came McNulty, whose effort slowly whittled the group down to five riders before Thomas lost contact.

“I started riding my pace, and I could’ve held the gap … and tried to edge back over the top or on the descent, but made the call not to go into the red and risk blowing up on this climb,” Thomas explained. 

Romain Bardet looks back to Geraint Thomas on the road to Peyragudes. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

A small second group of team leaders coalesced down the road – Thomas, Bardet, Gaudu, Lutsenko, a handful of others – where Thomas recovered further before putting time in on the steeper ramps toward the top of the climb. “I waited for that group behind, saved my legs a little bit,” Thomas explained. From then, it was just a matter of riding “a solid pace all the way to the line.” 

There are two stages left, really, where the gaps on the GC can expand or contract. On current indications, Thomas might lose a little tomorrow, might gain a little in the time trial a couple of days later. He was, he agreed, “all about the podium” now – a podium that will likely be shared with Pogačar and Vingegaard, both more than a decade younger with a more explosive turn of speed. 

“I think all in all it was a decent day,” Thomas reflected, mulling his performance. “In the end, I got dropped by those two, but they’re another level.” 

That’s one way of putting it, but Thomas – good for a quote – had another. “I want to have what they have for breakfast, because they were going,” he said, half bemused, half impressed, entirely Geraint Thomas.

Editors' Picks