A surprise attack a thousand meters from the line saw Geraint Thomas open a gap and just hold on to win stage five of the Criterium du Dauphine on Thursday. The Welshman won the race in 2018 before going on to clinch the Tour de France that year. His daring tactic this time around saw him earn 10 bonus seconds and climb to sixth overall, 14 seconds off the lead. The move sits well with the ‘cycling with a smile’ philosophy Ineos principal Dave Brailsford is touting and with which the team recently won the Giro d’Italia twice in succession.
Bora-Hansgrohe’s Austrian Lukas Postlberger of retains the race leader’s yellow jersey, but with three mountain stages remaining he will likely wear it for a final time Friday.
“It wasn’t planned,” Thomas insisted of his break after edging sprinter Sonny Colbrelli to the line.
“I knew it was all lined out and the last bit was a little twisty and just said: ‘Sod it, just go for it’,” said former Olympic and world team pursuit Thomas.
Coming into a corner a kilometer out and leading the pack Ineos rider Michal Kwiatkowski slowed to allow Thomas to open a small gap that he held but almost lost at the last gasp.
“To be honest I didn’t think I had it on the line,” Thomas said. “Man, Colbrelli passed so fast he nearly took my arm off.”
After his third second place finish Colbrelli congratulated Thomas but complained about his own luck.
“Second again,” he said. “Thomas went at the right moment, bravo to the winner.”
The 35-year-old Thomas adds this stage win to the Tour of Romandy he won this season. It is the first time that he crossed the line at the front of the pack since stage 12 of the 2018 Tour at the iconic Alpe d’Huez.
“The real test will come in the mountains,” Thomas said, with a hilltop finish on Friday and major mountain slogs on Saturday and Sunday.
Former Ineos star Chris Froome dropped another three minutes on Thursday and is now 8:46 off the lead.
Friday’s sixth stage takes in four mountains in the final 30 miles of a 103 mile run from Loriol-sur-Drome to Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse.
STAGE 5 RESULTS
|1||THOMAS Geraint||INEOS Grenadiers||4:02:15|
|2||COLBRELLI Sonny||Bahrain – Victorious||0:00|
|3||ARANBURU Alex||Astana – Premier Tech||0:00|
|4||BARBERO Carlos||Team Qhubeka ASSOS||0:00|
|5||WÜRTZ SCHMIDT Mads||Israel Start-Up Nation||0:00|
|6||VALGREN Michael||EF Education – Nippo||0:00|
|7||KONRAD Patrick||BORA – hansgrohe||0:00|
|8||VALVERDE Alejandro||Movistar Team||0:00|
|9||SWEENY Harry||Lotto Soudal||0:00|
|10||BONNAMOUR Franck||B&B Hotels p/b KTM||0:00|
|1||POSTLBERGER Lukas||BORA – hansgrohe||16:59:22|
|2||LUTSENKO Alexey||Astana – Premier Tech||0:01|
|3||ASGREEN Kasper||Deceuninck – Quick Step||0:06|
|4||IZAGIRRE Ion||Astana – Premier Tech||0:09|
|5||KELDERMAN Wilco||BORA – hansgrohe||0:13|
|6||THOMAS Geraint||INEOS Grenadiers||0:14|
|7||VAN WILDER Ilan||Team DSM||0:14|
|8||PORTE Richie||INEOS Grenadiers||0:16|
|9||KONRAD Patrick||BORA – hansgrohe||0:32|
|10||O’CONNOR Ben||AG2R Citroën Team||0:34|
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini