Geraint Thomas added his name to the list of winners at the Criterium du Dauphine, making it six British victories in the last eight years. Only once has that rider not gone on to win the Tour de France.
It wasn’t quite in the manner of Froome’s win at the Giro but G started in the same way as his team mate at the final warm up before the Tour as the usual mishaps befell him on route to his biggest achievement on the road.
Froome crashed in his warm up for the Giro opening time trial, Thomas went down fast and hard on the CdD’s prologue. The fact he sat there for what seemed an age before slowly getting back into the race and then finished just 21 seconds behind the stage winner, his team mate Michał Kwiatkowski, showed his was in some form.
So after the prologue TT, Sky held the yellow jersey and they did so for the rest of the race bar one day. Their domination was cemented on stage three, the team time trial. Now we’ve seen some horrific TTTs from Sky, who can forget that omnishambles at the 2011 Vuelta, in this they were imperious, not as David Millar keeps saying “imperial”, unless he thinks they are minty.
Putting over thirty seconds into the team that finished second it meant that they now occupied the top four spots in the GC and had opened an even bigger gap to those with GC aspirations, before they reached the mountains. Over the next couple of stages they dropped off until Thomas was in possession of the leader’s jersey, with just over a minute in hand.
By the end of the race he had exactly a minute over second place Adam Yates.
In those last four stages in the mountains we had the usual routine of everyone going on about how great Romain Bardet and his AG2R team were with an attack on a descent. They did it to Froome in the Tour and they did it to Thomas in this race.
The only problem is it hasn’t worked. Both times they did it to Froome he ended up crossing the line ahead of Bardet, picking up either time or bonus seconds. They did it to Thomas twice here, on stage 6 Thomas finished second on the stage, two seconds ahead of the French rider, so adding another 8 seconds to the gap between the pair.
They then did it on the final stage, when Thomas had a puncture. It’s not the first time they’d attacked when the race leader has a mechanical. Now just imagine the shit flying if Sky did that. Bardet and AG2R, nah, free ride. But no, Sky leaders close things down in this situation, don’t ride it for their gain. Thomas showed his calmness and the great team around him in bridging back to the peloton, who had opened a one minute gap. Tao Geoghegan Hart yest again doing a power of work, once G had regained his place amongst the leaders, as the young rider had done all week.
What is it with G and this type of thing. A pair of punctures on the final stage, his crash on the opener, going over the edge on descents in the tour, breaking bones, having motorbikes stop in front of him. That puncture on the cobbles in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games, which luckily didn’t cost him.
In the end Bardet may have crossed the line 10 seconds ahead of Thomas, it didn’t matter a jot, he was so far behind Thomas could just cruise those last few metres knowing the victory was his. But as he said after
I’m not one to hold a grudge but I also certainly won’t forget it.
Yates was second, cemented by taking off with only a couple hundred metres to go on the last stage to take the stage victory after leaving Bardet standing. It was a confident ride from the Bury man, getting back into shape. The twins on the form they’ve shown recently would be something in a Grand Tour together.
But the day and the week belonged to G… whatever the way things pan out come the first week of July to have him in this form ain’t bad…