Geraint Thomas keeps his powder dry as Giro d’Italia reaches mountains stalemate

Welsh rider matches Tadej Pogačar and Dani Martínez on stage 10 summit finish

Clock17:53, Tuesday 14th May 2024
I see you: Giro d'Italia lead Tadej Pogačar checks on his closest rivals Dani Martínez and Geraint Thomas during stage 10

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I see you: Giro d'Italia lead Tadej Pogačar checks on his closest rivals Dani Martínez and Geraint Thomas during stage 10

The first stage after a rest day in a Grand Tour can always be a nervous and unpredictable affair. Tired legs, the break in routine after nine days of intense racing and shocks can all filter through the peloton and leave their effects, but Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) surfed the wheels on stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia to maintain his third place overall behind race leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).

On paper, at least, the day offered far more than it delivered, with a searingly long climb to the summit of Bocca della Selva coming after a short but punchy 142km venture from Pompei, but a block headwind on the final ascent effectively nullified proceedings with only Bahrain Victorious trying but ultimately failing to catapult Antonio Tiberi up the general classification.

Thomas followed Pogačar’s wheel intently, was shepherded by Magnus Sheffield dutifully, and managed to finish one place ahead of Pogačar on the line after Valentin Paret-Peintre (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Team) claimed the stage from the break. After ten days of racing Thomas sits third, 2:58 down on the maglia rosa but just 18 seconds adrift of Dani Martinez (Bora-Hansgrohe) in second.

“It was a tough old start as we saw with the break, with it going on for so long,” Thomas said at the finish as he grappled with his rain jacket before descending the mountain.

“We hit the climbs, we knew it would be a strong break, and likely to stay away. We knew UAE would set a pace but with a headwind at the finish, it was always going to be not too crazy in the final. It was a good day for us actually.”

Read more: Giro d'Italia stage 10: Valentin Paret-Peintre triumphs atop Bocca della Selva

On the final climb Ineos Grenadiers hit the front briefly and it looked as though the British squad were attempting to put the race under pressure but their tactics were more about positioning than power. In the end, Sheffield was forced to sit up and wait for Thymen Arensman after the Dutchman lost contact with the leaders and dropped two places to 11th overall.

UAE Team Emirates set a steady tempo for much of the climb but the optics changed when Damiano Caruso slipped from the day’s break and started to ramp up the pace for the maglia rosa group that contained his Bahrain Victorious teammate, Tiberi.

The Italian rider has impressed through the race so far and was excellent in the week one time trial, but on stage 10 he lost four seconds on GC - although he gained time on white jersey leader and rival Cian Uijtdebroeks. The pair are now separated by 12 seconds but Thomas only has eyes on the podium at this point in the race, and his continued tactic is to play the long game and wait for the final week before leaving his best impression.

Read more: The GC standings at the Giro d'Italia

“It was a tough start and that was one of the easier mountain-top finishes that we do. It was still solid and then Bahrain took it on but with the headwind, Tiberi was never going to go anywhere. It was a good day,” he said.

While the podium is certainly a realistic aim for Thomas, the hope within the Ineos Grenadiers camp is that he can still maintain a challenge for the maglia rosa. That’s a tough ask given what we saw in the first time trial and Pogačar’s early dominance, but the Welshman also finds himself with the tricky balancing act of holding off the four riders chasing his third place and currently sitting within two minutes of him.

“Today wasn’t really the day or I didn’t feel like it was. I just wanted to stay with the boys. It’s three tricky days now and then a big weekend,” he said.

The weekend of course includes the brutal stage to Livigno, and the approach of the Stelvio, although that particular climb has been shortened in a last-minute route alteration thanks to a heightened risk of avalanches.

“I don’t know what the deal is there but it’s going to be hard, whatever it is. Obviously, if we did the whole Stelvio it would be a bit tougher but whatever happens it’s still going to be tough,” Thomas said.

For everything you need to know about the 2024 Giro d'Italia, from the history of the race to this year's route and start list, be sure to check out our dedicated race hub.

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