Tour de France 2014: Sky’s Geraint Thomas dismisses talk of treacherous Tour

Rider claims crashes are just more high-profile and backs ‘aggressive’ Porte to keep challenging race leader Nibali

with the tour de france

Sky’s Geraint Thomas has rejected claims that this year’s Tour is more crash-ridden than any other he has raced in – and given he has had three falls himself in the last three stages, it can be said he is speaking from closer personal experience than he would like.

Two favourites – Alberto Contador and Chris Froome – have abandoned because of injuries incurred in crashes, while Mark Cavendish, the Tour’s most successful ever sprinter, has been out since day one after rupturing his shoulder ligaments in a fall in Harrogate. After Andy Schleck quit with an injured knee on stage four, the Tour now has no former winner among the 180 riders still in action.

But for Thomas, the actual total of pile-ups in this year’s Tour – estimated at around 50 so far – is regrettably not unusual.

“Every year we’re like: ‘God, there’s been so many crashes’, but it’s the same every year,” the multiple Olympic gold medallist said on the Tour’s rest day. “I’m sure if we went back and had a look last year we’d see it was the same. The difference is that they’ve been more high-profile.”

Thomas himself has had a bee sting to contend with – “but I’m getting better now” – while his latest spill came on Monday. “I haven’t hurt myself, luckily. A lot of it is down to bad luck,” he said. “On Monday I should have given myself some more space, but you’re going over the penultimate climb [in the front group] and there’s only 20 guys left and you’re like buzzing after that. My injuries are just a few little grazes, they’re fine, I’ve dealt with a lot worse.”

Thomas’s scars and scabs, though, remain clearly visible on his legs.

Since Froome crashed out, the 28-year-old from Cardiff is one of Sky’s substitute team leader Richie Porte’s key support riders, with the Tasmanian currently lying second overall, two minutes and 23 seconds down on race leader Vincenzo Nibali.

“He’s really stepped up,” Thomas said of Porte. “We’ve every confidence he can hold that position. He’s suddenly got even more aggressive if that’s possible for him, and he’s just like ‘Come on, let’s do it’.”

Richie Porte has taken over the leadership of Team Sky and is now up to second overall (Getty) Richie Porte has taken over the leadership of Team Sky and is now up to second overall (Getty)
Asked how Porte’s fighting spirit manifested itself, Thomas joked: “Without swearing, I don’t think I can. Over the last few days, when everyone’s fighting over the top of the mountains, he lets people know he’s there, gives them a bit of aggro.

“It’s not like he’s saying he’s going to kill someone’s kids or something, it’s just like that real gutsy Tassie in him. He really fights... which is all you want. If you’re riding yourself into the ground, you want to know the guy behind you will do the same.”

Meanwhile, Britain’s other remaining rider, the Orica-GreenEdge first-year pro, Simon Yates continues to fight on in his first Tour de France, despite recovering from an untimely cold.

“This is as far as I’ve ever raced back to back and I’ll just go for it day by day from here,” Yates said. “But I couldn’t tell you what the stages look like from now on, though.”

Yates has not crashed seriously so far – “I’ve had touchdowns, and on stage one I hit the floor on my face, but I’ve not been affected by anything legs wise” is how he puts it – and neither, for that matter, has Nibali.

Video: Marcel Kittel on Contador leaving the Tour de France

As for the latest top name to head home, Contador was examined at a Madrid hospital after his 70kmh crash on Monday left him with a broken tibia and a deep cut in his right knee.

“The good news is that I have no tendon or ligament injured and the break is in the best possible place,” said Contador, who will not require surgery. “At least I’ll have to stop two weeks and, until the wounds heal, the leg had to be immobilised.Doctors have told me it will be almost impossible to be in the Tour of Spain, but we’ll see how the leg evolves.”

The depth of Contador’s disappointment at his untimely exit from the Tour came clear when the Madrileno was asked if he would still be interested in the race’s outcome.

“I was going to say: ‘Now I’ll have to watch the bullfight from the seats’,” he replied, “but, in fact, I don’t think that’ll be the case. I don’t think I’ll be able to bring myself to watch this year’s Tour on TV.”

When the Tour’s racing resumes, the hilly 187.5 kilometre stage from Besançon to Oyonnax today is unlikely to see any major attacks on Nibali, who Contador said “is in an excellent position [to win]”. Two weeks though, remain until Paris – and this Tour is so far anything but predictable.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam