Tour de France 2015: Chris Froome says there is room at the top for team-mate Geraint Thomas

The Team Sky rider has helped the race leader chase down a blizzard of attacks

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Geraint Thomas is riding so well that he could finish in the top three of the Tour de France, according to his Sky team-mate and race leader Chris Froome.

Thomas has ridden exceptionally strongly on both key Pyrenean stages, proving instrumental as a team support rider on the latest leg over four major climbs and helping Froome chase down a blizzard of attacks.

As the rain and hail tipped down on the final ascent of Plateau de Beille and the stage win went to lone breakaway rider Joaquim Rodriguez, of Spain, behind in the favourites’ group multiple Grand Tour champion Alberto Contador, 2013 Tour runner-up Nairo Quintana and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali all made unsuccessful attempts to unsettle Froome. But while Froome made one brief counter-attack, Thomas not only kept a high pace at the front to deter further challenges but also managed to stay with the favourites to keep his own fifth place overall intact.

“I wouldn’t say anything’s impossible, of course, but I definitely think G [Thomas] is capable of it,” Froome said of the Olympic gold medallist. “There’s not much of a difference between fifth and second, anything’s possible. I don’t see why he shouldn’t be right up there.”

Although Thomas strongly played down speculation on Monday’s rest day that he would go for the Tour podium – he is best known on the road as a Classics specialist – his subsequent  climbing performances in the Pyrenees have easily been his best in a Grand Tour, and may change his own opinion.

Froome and the peloton now head northwards from the Pyrenees, and on Friday will tackle a hilly 198.5km stage to Rodez. One rider not going with them is Britain’s Alex Dowsett, who abandoned after being cut adrift early in the stage. Dowsett had found the going tough since damaging an elbow in a crash on the fourth stage.