Geraint Thomas conceded the maglia rosa to France’s Bruno Armirail on the rain-soaked stage from Switzerland to Cassano Magnago but Ineos Grenadiers insisted it was all part of their long-game and strategy for overall victory in the third week of the Giro d’Italia.
Cyclingnews witnessed Thomas arrive at the Ineos Grenadiers team bus in a rain-soaked pink jersey. He did not warm down on the rollers, didn’t speak but did not seem concerned either. He could only put the maglia rosa away as a career souvenir and hope it is not his last of this year’s Corsa Rosa.
Thomas will start Sunday’s stage to Bergamo 1:41 down on Armirail but still in control of his overall hopes, with his rivals still breathing down his neck. Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) is third overall at 1:43 and Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) at 2:03, both very much in the game for overall victory.
“The boys controlled the break at the start. It was a big break and we were happy for it to go, then see how it turns out because 9 times out of 10 a big break like that doesn’t ride well together on the flat,” Thomas said after the stage, noting that he wore three rain jackets on the freezing cold Simplonpass descent.
“We were half expecting them to attack each other on the climb already. But then it turned out that they rode really well together. The speed in front was fast and we didn’t want to overcook our boys to try and defend the jersey, basically. So, they still rode a decent tempo and ended up giving the jersey away. But I think it was a good decision because there’s no point in two guys trying to hold 20-odd guys rotating at full gas.
“Happy to get that one ticked off because it was another long day, cold and wet for the majority as well, which seems to be the majority at this race.”
Armirail’s lead could ensure he retains the maglia rosa during Sunday’s 195km stage in the Lombardy hills and so into Monday’s rest day and then the final week in the high mountains. Thomas can now rest up and save every drop of energy for the final showdown in the second half of the week.
Team directeur sportif Matteo Tosatto insisted to Cyclingnews that the decision to let the maglia go was a sign of Ineos Grenadiers’ confidence and control, not one of weakness.
“I looked at the names of the riders in the break and immediately decided to let the maglia rosa go. It was a sign of us controlling our own race, not a weakness,” Tosatto told Cyclingnews and Slovenian radio after checking in with Thomas and the other…
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