Belfast Telegraph

Thomas' Tour hopes dented by Rowe's exit

 

Worried: Geraint Thomas
Worried: Geraint Thomas

By Ian Parker

Geraint Thomas' hopes of defending his Tour de France title have suffered a blow after his road captain Luke Rowe was expelled from the race yesterday along with Jumbo-Visma's Tony Martin.

Video footage showed Martin almost riding Rowe off the road late in the 200km stage from Pont du Gard to Gap, with Rowe appearing to grab the German.

The order of events was unclear.

UCI commissaires took the decision to expel both riders and fine them 1000 Swiss francs (£812) after calling them to review the video footage after the stage.

The decision could have huge ramifications in the battle for the yellow jersey, with Rowe a key rider for defending champion Geraint Thomas and Martin a big part of Steven Kruijswijk's team.

Thomas sits second overall, 95 seconds behind Julian Alaphilippe, with Kruijswijk in third, a further 12 seconds back.

An emotional Rowe reacted to the decision, saying: "To come here with this team, a bunch of good mates, I feel like I've let them down and of course let myself down.

"We were both trying to do a job.

"Maybe we both overstepped the mark slightly, but it feels harsh to be thrown off the race, both of us.

"Neither of us deserve that. There are a lot of people supporting you, watching you. It's pretty hard."

Ineos team principal Sir Dave Brailsford called the decision "severe".

Matteo Trentin won yesterday's stage from the breakaway to give his Mitchelton-Scott team their fourth success of the Tour.

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