'Giro d'Italia is UAE Team Emirates' race to lose' say Ineos Grenadiers after Pogačar demolition

‘I’ve run out of things to say about him’ surmises Geraint Thomas, who is left ruing a bad day that has left him with an uphill battle to win the maglia rosa

Clock16:41, Friday 10th May 2024
Geraint Thomas struggled on the climb and was not in the top 20 riders over the final 6km

© Getty Images

Geraint Thomas struggled on the climb and was not in the top 20 riders over the final 6km

In a nondescript car park some way down from the hustle and bustle of the stage 7 finish in Perugia, there was a despondent mood around a gaggle of three Ineos Grenadiers cars acting as a makeshift base for Geraint Thomas’ warm-down.

It was a natural reaction, of course, to the first individual time trial of the Giro d’Italia which had seen a promising start from the Welshman come undone, to a certain extent. Trailing the race lead of Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) by 46 seconds at the start of the stage, Thomas’ deficit had ballooned by exactly two minutes after a domineering performance by the Slovenian on Friday afternoon.

Read more: Giro d'Italia stage 7: Tadej Pogačar powers to TT victory taking time on Thomas and rivals

“For me personally, not the best but for a bad day on the bike, I guess it’s not so bad,” reasoned Thomas with GCN and a handful of reporters, offering a word of encouragement for himself as much as anyone else.

“I tried to hold back a bit on the flat and push on the climb but I think I attacked the steep bits but was just way too off it for the rest and just lost a shipload of time. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

At 37 and with a Tour de France title to his name, Thomas is by now a seasoned pro and with that, a measured reaction to a disappointing day is understandable. When it comes to Grand Tour racing, the Welshman has pretty much seen it all, including previous time trial heartbreak at the Giro d’Italia.

A year on from that particular defeat to Primož Roglič, the Welshman insists that today’s stage did not hold the same struggles.

“I felt ok, I was trying to sort of keep something in reserve and just ride fast, but I got to the climb and felt like I still had a bit in reserve. I didn’t feel great but it wasn’t like the last 3km of the TT last year, that’s for sure,” he said.

“[It was] similar to the opening TT last year with the flat and then the kicker at the end. I kind of felt the same which was when it was time to really go, I couldn’t really go. I could half go.”

Placing 10th on the stage, it was far from a bad performance for Thomas. His time was comparable to time trial specialists Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates) and Luke Plapp (Jayco AlUla), and he even gained seven seconds on fellow podium hopeful Ben O’Connor (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale).

However, the comparison was always going to be between Thomas and Pogačar today, such are the career accomplishments of both men. For these two, there is no such thing as racing for second, and as far as Ineos Grenadiers are concerned, their assault on pink just got a whole lot more difficult.

“2:46 is definitely not a margin to be scoffed at, that’s for sure. it’s an important margin and I think UAE has the responsibility here, it’s their race to lose per say,” sports director Zak Dempster told GCN and a small group of reporters under a blazing afternoon sun.

“But at the same time, they have got a bit of a weapon in Pogačar so it’s not going to be simple.”

Thomas rocks one-by front ring after months of planning

Thomas’ disappointment notwithstanding, Ineos Grenadiers performed strongly in Friday’s 40km test. Filippo Ganna placed second, closely followed by Magnus Sheffield, whilst Thymen Arensman ended the day in fourth having recovered a chunk of time in the general classification. The Dutchman is up 15 places to 11th on GC, as it stands.

All four riders mentioned were riding a new Classified Powershift rear hub system that is a 2x set-up, thereby removing the need for a double chainset and front derailleur. The thinking behind this is to reduce a rider’s drag and was clearly used to good effect by the British team between Foligno and the ancient streets of Perugia. Thomas’ review of the set-up was short but sweet after the finish.

“It worked really well, no issues with that really,” he said before wrapping up his warm-down.

Sports director Dempster, meanwhile, revealed that the team’s equipment for today’s stage had been many months in the making.

“I think cadence wise it was fine on that last climb,” he said of Thomas’ experience with the one-by.

“Dario [Cioni, an Ineos Grenadiers coach] came here the week after the presentation in Trento and we were already thinking creatively about how we could get a competitive advantage in this stage and I think on paper, I think we did a good set-up. We had a good plan, we did four recons of the stage including this morning and I don’t think the guys were left wanting at all with the material set-up.”

His team leader and maglia rosa hopeful Thomas has dropped to third position overall, with the Welshman trailing Bora-Hansgrohe’s Dani Martínez by a margin of 10 seconds heading into the second summit of the race on Saturday.

In spite of today’s time losses, the 37-year-old will remain calm ahead of the climb to Prati di Tivo. He knows, as much as anyone, that in Pogačar the rest of the Giro is simply coming up against a once-in-a-generation rider who can perhaps only be stopped by misfortune.

“It’s a long old race, isn’t it? I didn’t lose time to everyone so it’s not so bad,” Thomas wagered. “A few guys gained time but that’s what Grand Tour racing is all about unless your name is Pogačar or Jonas [Vingegaard].

“I’ve run out of things to say about him, we all know how good he is.”

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.

Related Content

Link to Giro d'Italia stage 7: Tadej Pogačar powers to TT victory taking time on Thomas and rivals
unknown

Giro d'Italia stage 7: Tadej Pogačar powers to TT victory taking time on Thomas and rivals

Slovenian betters Filippo Ganna on final climb to extend lead, as Geraint Thomas slips to third overall

Clock
Link to 5 unmissable stages of the 2024 Tour de France
The fearsome Col du Galibier appears shockingly early in the 2024 Tour de France

5 unmissable stages of the 2024 Tour de France

Mountains, gravel, and final-day drama: Here's our pick of the most promising stages of the upcoming Tour de France

Clock
Link to Analysing Visma-Lease a Bike’s Tour de France long list
Jonas Vingegaard and his then Jumbo-Visma teammates have been triumphant at the Tour de France for the past two years

Analysing Visma-Lease a Bike’s Tour de France long list

With Jonas Vingegaard on the comeback trail and Sepp Kuss suffering from illness, the team still has plenty of question marks looming before July

Clock
Link to Should Tadej Pogačar be worried by Remco Evenepoel and Primož Roglič at the Tour de France? - GCN Racing News Show
YouTube video undefined

Should Tadej Pogačar be worried by Remco Evenepoel and Primož Roglič at the Tour de France? - GCN Racing News Show

The Critérium du Dauphiné came to a conclusion at the weekend with Roglič as the winner, but Dan Lloyd can't see him winning the Tour, here's why

Clock
Subscribe to the GCN Newsletter

Get the latest, most entertaining and best informed news, reviews, challenges, insights, analysis, competitions and offers - straight to your inbox