Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) expressed his confusion at the tactics of Jumbo-Visma on stage 17, where Vuelta a España race leader Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) was dropped by teammates Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard in the final two kilometres.
“The fact that it was only three of them, no other tactics came into play. If there were other riders around, it would be different, if it was close to fight for the podium for Roglič, but that’s pretty much sewn up anyway,” said Thomas to Eurosport/GCN ahead of stage 18.
“Roglič isn’t going to win this Tour, this Vuelta, so there was no real need for him to carry on and gain those extra seconds,” he said.
“In my view, he still could’ve won the stage, and his position in third is still solid, so I don’t think he needed to continue at that pace and could’ve slowed up a bit.”
Kuss was left to fend for himself after Roglič accelerated, and Vingegaard followed his wheel into the mist up the Altu de L’Angliru with 1.9km remaining in the day.
Jumbo-Visma received significant backlash following the curious tactics, with contrasting messages coming from Roglič and Vingegaard following the stage on whether or not the team still want Kuss to win or if the road will decide the winner before we get to Madrid.
“I feel for Kuss,” said Thomas. “I feel like he deserves a bit more respect, not necessarily from the riders either, but more from the team. I think the team should be stronger on that.”
Thomas also expressed how there shouldn’t be gifts in cycling, especially in the sport’s biggest three-week tests, but that that wasn’t quite the case here, with Kuss a deserved winner.
“The fact that Kuss only got distanced 1k from the top of such a hard climb at such a hard race, I feel that’s slightly different to a big gap between the leaders and the guy, the domestique, because there shouldn’t be any gifts in a Grand Tour win,” Thomas said.
“I think it’s one thing gifting a stage, but I don’t think just because someone’s worked for you for years, you need to let them win, but I don’t think that’s the case anyway.
“I think he’s good enough to be in the position he’s in.”
When asked by journalist Laura Meseguer who he believed was going to be the eventual wearer of the red jersey in Madrid, Thomas replied, ‘Vingegaard, maybe’, but made it clear this wasn’t his preference.
“There’s a lot of pressure in that team now; there’s a lot of outside pressure as well,…