Tour de France 2019: Geraint Thomas shakes off ‘freak’ crash to stay in contention behind Julian Alaphilippe


There is rarely a quiet day in the Tour de France. Not this Tour de France, anyway. On the final flat day before Paris, in blistering Mediterranean heat reaching 40 degrees, the reigning champion Geraint Thomas crashed on the road and the year’s form rider Jakob Fuglsang crashed out of the race, before Caleb Ewan won a straight fight against the other alpha sprinters to clinch his second stage win of the Tour.

At first it was unclear why Thomas had been sent to ground, 40km into the stage on an innocuous bend, and he later put it down to a “freak thing”. He landed hard on his left side but quickly jumped up and after a change of bike returned to the peloton trailing a couple of Team Ineos domestiques.

“I had one hand on the bars and then the gears jumped and jammed, and I just got thrown off my bike on the corner,” Thomas said. “I knew the race wasn’t on so I just got back to the group. It’s just frustration. It was such a freak thing, but I’m OK. I saw the doctor and he sprayed some water. I think he just wanted a chat.”

His reaction suggests there will be no lasting damage but even a few irritating cuts and scrapes will not be welcome company on the Alpine climbs to come. Thomas has a long history of coming off his bike, often in creative ways, but even so it is a little alarming that this was his fourth fall in a month.

Fuglsang was not so lucky. The Swiss, who won the Criterium du Dauphine in June and was tipped by many to challenge for the podium, had crashed on the opening stage of the Tour and had gradually recovered to put himself ninth overall, but his collision with Cees Boul with 30km to go forced him to finally abandon the race. He was seen gingerly walking to an ambulance and was taken to hospital for checks.

It means Ewan is the first of the big four fast-men to have won two stages this year, with a showdown in Paris still to come. “Every sprint I’ve been at least on the podium,” Ewan said. “I’m not going to say I’m the best sprinter in the world but I’m the most consistent this year at the Tour. The Champs-Elysees would be special, that’s the one all sprinters want to have on their palmares at the end of their career.”

The race for the yellow jersey remains unchanged as the Tour heads into its final four competitive days. Wednesday’s hilly route will again be hot and hard, before the battle in the skies over the Alps which will ultimately decide the destination of the maillot jauneJulian Alaphilippe is still in yellow, but for the first time in years there are half a dozen candidates who could feasibly win it. A little battered and bruised, the reigning champion is still among them.