A sort of homecoming. Geraint Thomas’ first day in the maglia rosa of the Giro d’Italia brought him to Tuscany, where he spent some formative years during his cycling apprenticeship and through conditions more reminiscent of so many teenaged training rides in the hinterland of Cardiff.
“I left Wales when I was 20 to get away from the weather,” Thomas smiled after reaching Viareggio safely in the main peloton at the end of a sodden stage 10, his two-second lead over Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) still intact.
Indeed, the conditions had been grimy enough to prompt a late conflab between the CPA and the Giro organisation about the prospect of cutting the stage short and avoiding the 1,527m-high Passo delle Radici. Although Thomas wears the pink jersey after Remco Evenepoel’s COVID-19 abandon, the Ineos rider played no part in the discussions at the start in Scandiano.
“We were happy to go with the consensus of the rider union, but we also had the mindset of doing the whole stage: we didn’t want to think about it being shortened because that just messes with your head, really,” Thomas said. “We were assured the conditions were good enough to race, and it proved that they were, so I’m happy we did it.”
Thomas inherited the lead of this Giro late on Sunday night when it was announced that Evenepoel had tested positive for COVID-19 and would leave the race with immediate effect. After entering the Giro’s first rest day with a deficit of 45 seconds in the overall standings, Thomas resumed on Tuesday with a narrow advantage over Roglič and Ineos teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart.
“I didn’t expect it coming into the race, because I’ve had a stop-start year, and I was expecting to sort of build into the Giro, so to have the jersey now is a big surprise. Obviously, the way I took it as well is not normal,” said Thomas, who gently deflated the idea that he might even have considered refusing to wear the maglia rosa for the first day after Evenepoel’s abandon.
“Not really. I think it’s respectful to the race to keep the jersey. Like I said yesterday, it’s not like he’s died or anything. Sometimes people don’t start races, and it’s definitely unfortunate how it happened, but I’m still here, and if somebody’s got to wear it, I’m happy to do that.”
The complexion of the Giro has changed utterly, of course, without…
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