Geraint Thomas escaped with minor injuries after crashing heavily at the Tour de Suisse yesterday and will be able to defend his Tour de France title when the race begins next month.
Much to the relief of Team Ineos following the withdrawal of Chris Froome last week after the four-times winner sustained multiple serous injuries, the Welshman suffered only abrasions to his shoulder and a cut above his right eye following the crash involving Astana rider Andrey Zeits 27 kilometres from the finish of stage four in Arlesheim on Tuesday. Thomas received treatment from medical staff after for several minutes before eventually abandoning the race but later admitted he had wanted to continue.
“You’ve always got to be cautious with a head injury, and whilst I was keen to carry on, the doctors made the right decision to pull me out of the race,” he said.
“There was a lip in the road that came out of nowhere. An Astana rider hit the lip and crashed and I had nowhere to go. I landed on my shoulder and my face and there was quite a bit of blood.”
Thomas had been hoping to use the week-long race as his final tune up before defending his Tour title and admitted that the situation was far from ideal.
“Clearly it’s frustrating and a small setback for my Tour de France preparations, but there’s still plenty of time before we start in Brussels in a few weeks’ time,” he said. “We will recalibrate and I’m sure my coach will have a plan in place to ensure I’m ready for July 6.”
Team INEOS doctor Derick Macleod said: “Geraint took a heavy fall. The main area of impact was to his head. He passed his initial concussion roadside test but with the nature and severity of the impact, it was felt unsafe for him to continue in the race. He was taken to hospital and thankfully all the X-rays and scans have come back clear. Knowing Geraint, it won’t take him long to get back on his bike but we’ll need to ensure he’s symptom free in the next few days before he does so. We’re optimistic he’ll make a full recovery over the coming days though and all being well he’ll be back on his bike very soon.”
The incident comes a week after Froome was ruled out of next month’s Tour because he suffered a fractured neck, a fractured right femur, a broken hip and fractured ribs when he hit a wall during a practice run for the Critérium du Dauphiné time trial. The four-times champion lost control in high winds when he tried to blow his nose while cycling at 37mph.
Thomas, who beat Froome into third place in last year’s Tour, will now lead Team Ineos for the three-week race which begins on 6 July. He became the third British rider to win the Tour after surprisingly holding off the challenge of his teammate last year. The Welshman was voted BBC sports personality of the year following his achievement and is rated as the favourite to repeat his Tour success in the absence of Froome.
Thomas has suffered a number of injuries down the years, including fracturing his pelvis during the 2013 race but riding on to help Froome claim his maiden Tour title.