Tour de France: Geraint Thomas admits Chris Froome's exit is a 'mega loss' to Team Sky
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: 09/07/14 9:31pm
Geraint Thomas, right, shepherds Richie Porte through stage five of the Tour de France
Geraint Thomas admitted Chris Froome’s exit from the Tour de France is a “mega loss” but insisted Team Sky’s hopes of winning the race are not over.
Froome, the defending champion, crashed twice on a rain-soaked fifth stage and although he was able to get up from the first incident, he could not remount the second time and subsequently abandoned.
It is the second time in four years that Team Sky have seen their leader crash out of the Tour, after Sir Bradley Wiggins was forced to quit the 2011 edition with a broken collarbone.
Richie Porte will now take over as the British squad’s leader and, having survived stage five and moved up to eighth place overall, support rider Thomas believes a third yellow jersey for Team Sky is still not out of the question.
Taking the positives
“It’s a mega loss, losing Froomey, but at the end of the day, that’s bike racing, that’s life,” the Welshman said. “You can’t have perfect rides all the time and we have to accept it. It’s kind of like Brad in 2011, when he crashed out with a broken collarbone.
“You have got to take the positives from it. Back then we saw it as our chance to go for stages and Richie has got a great chance to ride for himself and I’ve got every confidence that he can do that.”
Porte lies 1min 54sec behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali following an epic fifth stage marred by heavy rain and myriad crashes.
"I think it was a pretty successful day when look at it. Obviously losing Froomey is not good, but Richie is in good form."
His deficit could have been even greater had it not been for Thomas dragging him over the last two of seven sections of cobbles and reducing his deficit to Nibali, who was further up the road.
Thomas added: “I think it was a pretty successful day when you look at it. I saw [Alberto] Contador was struggling a bit on the cobbles on sectors four and three, so I said, ‘Richie, get on my wheel, let’s just smash it and see what happens’.
“I actually really enjoyed it. I was stressing a bit before the race, but once it all broke up and you could take your own line, it wasn’t quite as stressful. It was awesome, it was good fun. Obviously losing Froomey is not good, but Richie is in good form.”
Despite having confidence in Porte’s chances, Thomas believes Nibali is now the favourite for the yellow jersey.
“He’s the main man now,” he added. “He’s got two and a half minutes on Contador, two on Richie, and he’s a handy bike racer, he’s won a few bike races. Him and his team have got to be the favourites at this stage.”