Albi — Defending champion Geraint Thomas gained time on a handful of his main rivals as crosswinds caused chaos in the peloton in the climax of Monday’s 10th stage of the Tour de France.
Thomas was on the right end of a bunch split 35km from the finish of the 217.5km ride from St Flour with France’s Thibaut Pinot, Dane Jakob Fuglsang, Colombian Rigoberto Uran and Australian Richie Porte trapped behind.
They finished 1min 39sec off the pace. Dutchman Wout van Aert won the stage in a sprint finish with Thomas, his Ineos teammate Egan Bernal and Colombian Nairo Quintana in the main group, as well as Briton Adam Yates and Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk.
Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, whose Deceuninck-Quick Step team’s acceleration in the crosswinds caused the decisive split, retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey as he crossed the line at the same time as Van Aert.
It was the worst possible scenario for Pinot, one of the world’s best climbers who was hoping to battle it out with Thomas in the mountains, as he lost a huge amount of time on the flat.
“Nothing to say, it was a shitty day,” said a tearful Pinot, who started the day as the best-placed of the overall contenders after gaining almost half a minute with a brilliant attack in Saturday’s eighth stage.
The bunch split caused a major shakedown of the rankings, with Thomas moving up to second, 1:12 behind Alaphilippe. He still leads Bernal by 4sec but Pinot slipped down to 11th, 1:21 behind Thomas going into the first rest day.
Kruijswijk is fourth, 15sec behind Thomas, with Yates in seventh place 35sec adrift of the reigning champion, and 17sec ahead of eighth-placed Quintana.
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