ALBI, FRANCE – Defending champion Geraint Thomas and his Ineos team found themselves in the Tour de France driving seat after gaining considerable time on a handful of rivals as crosswinds caused chaos in the peloton in the climax of Monday’s 10th stage.
Thomas was on the right end of a bunch split 35 km from the finish of the 217.5km ride from Saint-Flour with France’s Thibaut Pinot, Dane Jakob Fuglsang, Colombian Rigoberto Uran and Australian Richie Porte trapped behind.
Ineos was the driving force at the front of the bunch and with the help of sprinters’ teams and Nairo Quintana’s Movistar, they increased the gap to 1:40 in the final km after Pinot and company came agonizingly close to making it back.
Belgian debutant Wout van Aert won his maiden Tour stage in a sprint finish with Thomas, Egan Bernal and Quintana in the main group, as well as Briton Adam Yates and Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk.
“We were in the perfect position when it split — we all committed when we needed to,” said Thomas, who moved up to second overall.
“When they tried to close it as quickly as possible but couldn’t manage it, that’s when the elastic snapped and we really gained a bit of time.
“It’s a good gap now — and we’ve landed a good blow on a day when you wouldn’t really have expected it. To gain a minute and a half due to a positioning error on their part is great from our point of view. In the end it’s a really good day for us.”