Thomas impresses on La Planche des Belles Filles

11 Jul 2019

Thomas impresses on La Planche des Belles Filles

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Tour de France – Stage six: Mulhouse - La Planche des Belles Filles, 160.5km

Geraint Thomas put in an emphatic performance on the steep slopes of La Planche des Belles Filles, crossing the line ahead of all his General Classification rivals on stage six.
The Welshman admitted he was cautious about the tough final gradients, yet pushed clear of his rivals in the final metres, overhauling the yellow jersey of Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninick-Quick-Step) and finishing fourth behind the day’s breakaway.
Egan Bernal was also present in the elite lead group, finishing just nine seconds back on Thomas to ensure the team retain two riders in the overall battle.
Thomas moves up two places to fifth overall, 49 seconds back on new race leader Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo). Bernal remains sixth, just four seconds behind his team-mate, after the first mountain stage.
Team INEOS worked hard to set things up for the lead duo, with Dylan van Baarle and Michal Kwiatkowski the final two riders remaining on the final climb. Kwiatkowski put in a vital stint on the front, keeping the pace high in the closing stages after intense pressure from Movistar.
Up ahead it was Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Merida) who edged out Ciccone to pick up the victory atop the famous climb. With Ciccone the new maillot jaune, Bernal will wear the white jersey on his behalf on stage seven.

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas

It’s one of those climbs where you really have to be patient.

- Geraint Thomas 
“I felt pretty good. I thought it would be a more solid day - it’s never easy, but it was steady for the first three climbs.

“When Movistar went and Valverde was riding it was solid, I was feeling pretty good - I was just unsure as on those steep climbs I was expecting Richie Porte, Nairo Quintana and obviously Egan to jump up there, so I was hoping for it to be hard all day before that. But it was a good day in the end.
“It’s one of those climbs where you really have to be patient and when Alaphilippe went pretty early, at like 800m to go, I just had to have the confidence to let him go and ride my own tempo and try and ride it all the way to the line. I was starting to blow though as it was solid, overall it was a decent day.”

- Michal Kwiatkowski
“It was super tough to pull on the front on the final climb, considering how Movistar were riding on the second last climb, and on the last one as well. When you have riders like Alejandro Valverde pulling on the front, it’s proof that it’s not an easy day. When Landa attacked I was trying to maintain the gap.
“Obviously I was just riding my last few kilometres easy and I could see on the television that G was doing really well, Egan as well on such as steep gradient, fighting against Alaphilippe is not an easy thing so it shows G’s in really good form which is the most important thing.
“I’m really happy that G and Egan finished well, as it wasn’t an easy day for most of us, one of the hardest stages of this year’s Tour de France and the first GC checkpoint which we’ve come through so I’m so happy.”

- Luke Rowe

“It was almost an easier day than we expected because the way the break went. We were expecting it to attack for a long time so we dodged a bullet in that sense. I think the team rode really well. It’s one of them standard Tour de France days where it’s on all day. 

“When Movistar started ramping up towards the end it started to explode. The legs felt really good and I did what I had to do. To hear what G’s gone and done there - we knew he could do it, we knew we had a good chance to be in a position to try and repeat what we did last year. Egan was also right there in the mix. It was a great day for us.”

Stage six result:

1. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Merida) 4:29:03
2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) +11"
3. Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Gobert) +1:05"
4. Geraint Thomas (Team INEOS) +1:44"
5. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +1:46"
12. Egan Bernal (Team INEOS) +1:53"

Overall Standings:

1. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 23:14:55
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) ++6”
3. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Merida) +32”
4. George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) 47”
5. Geraint Thomas (Team INEOS) +49”
6. Egan Bernal (Team INEOS) +53”

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