Tour de France 2014: Geraint Thomas on his scariest moment

 

The Tour de France riders are enjoying a rest day after 10 eventful stages that have seen the "grandest ever Grand Depart" in Yorkshire, rain, cobbles, rain, mountains and more rain.

Tour De France: Crashes just part of the Tour - Thomas

Four British riders started the race: defending champion Chris Froome and his Team Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas, Omega Pharma - Quick-Step sprinter Mark Cavendish, who has won 25 Tour stages, and 21-year-old debutant Simon Yates.

By the end of stage five, Froome and Cavendish had crashed out leaving Thomas and Yates, who rides for Orica GreenEdge, to fly the British flag.

In his second Tour column for BBC Sport, Thomas takes us through the opening week and a scary downhill moment when his brakes stopped working.

The first week of the Tour de France is always stressful and the 101st edition has been no different, with the persistent rain making life even tougher.

It makes the road extremely slippery and I've had three crashes, although luckily they've all been little ones and nothing like when I fractured my pelvis at the start of last year's race.

The last one, on Monday's stage 10, was pretty scary though because I was riding downhill in the rain and I pulled my brakes but nothing happened for two or three seconds. All I could see was a 90 degree left turn, a hay bale and a couple of people - and I wasn't slowing down.

I managed to scrub off some speed and the guy in front of me crashed and I toppled over him and on to his bike.

Alberto Contador

Contador crashed on stage 10 but rode on with a fractured leg before succumbing to the pain

There have been higher-profile crashes than mine though - particularly Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and Alberto Contador, who are three of the biggest names in the race.

It's never good to see riders crashing out of the Tour, but it is part of the race and although it may seem as though there have been more crashes this year, I don't think that's been the case.

It was a massive shame with Froome. His whole year has been based around the Tour and it ended just like that.

He crashed on the asphalt roads before the cobbles on stage five, but then a lot of people did. That was partly because it was wet but mainly because everyone knew the narrow cobbled sections were coming up and they had to ride fast to be near the front of the race because if you are at the back you can lose time behind crashes.

Chris Froome

Froome ended up with a fractured wrist and hand after crashes on successive days in northern France

Froomey had crashed the day before and we knew he was struggling, so in the meeting on the team bus we discussed our plan B and we knew that Australian Richie Porte was going to be our General Classification rider if Chris couldn't finish the stage or was going to lose a load of time.

So, as soon as he crashed for the first time on stage five, we thought "he's going to do well to just make it to the finish within a reasonable distance of the winner". And when he hit the deck the second time, we knew straight away to go for Richie.

I was in the first group on the road and I had to sit up and drop back to the group Richie was with, which was a bit of a shame because it would have been good to go for that stage win. I love riding on the cobbles and it was like one of the one-day Spring Classics races that I enjoy racing in.

Tour de France - the 18 riders who have quit

Stage 1 (5 July)

Mark Cavendish (GB)

Stage 7 (11 July)

Danny van Poppel (Ned)

Stage 2 (6 July)

Sacha Modolo (Ita)

Darwin Atapuma (Col)

Stage 4 (8 July)

Gregory Henderson (NZ)

Stef Clement (Ned)

Andy Schleck (Lux)

Mathias Frank (Swi)

Stage 5 (9 July)

Chris Froome (GB)

Stage 8 (12 July)

Bart De Clercq (Bel)

Maximiliano Richeze (Arg)

Stage 9 (13 July)

Egoitz Garcia (Spa)

Stage 6 (10 July)

Jesus Hernandez (Spa)

Stage 10 (14 July)

Mathew Hayman (Aus)

Egor Silin (Rus)

Edward King (US)

Xabier Zandio (Spa)

Alberto Contador (Spa)

But that's cycling. It is a team sport, as people in the UK are becoming more aware of, but it's still hard when you're in the front group on a stage like that when you want to go for a result.

Richie is trying to win the race though, and we managed to make it worthwhile and put some time into the other General Classification guys.

The mood on the bus after Froome crashed out on stage five was OK. I was half ready for it. Maybe if it happened all in one go on the day, then it would have been a more intense feeling of shock.

I think Richie can go on and win the race. He's second and there's still a lot more racing to come with four mountain-top finishes and a long time trial.

Mark Cavendish

Cavendish crashed in a sprint finish on stage one - he had targeted it all season as one he wanted to win

Contador crashing out on Monday is a prime example to race leader Vincenzo Nibali that things can change in an instant.

The exit of the Spaniard, who has won the Tour twice, changes the race dramatically though, because he would have ridden aggressively to try to make up the more than two minutes' time deficit he had on Nibali.

His team would have ridden aggressively too and that would have helped us in pace-setting up the mountains, but they've lost their leader and they don't have a plan B - it's like when we lost Bradley Wiggins to a broken collarbone in 2011.

Rob Hayles - BBC Radio 5 live commentator

Listen to the 5 live podcast

"It just goes to show that nobody has the right to make Paris. In a flick of a switch, anything can happen. We saw it with Chris Froome - his first crash was innocuous. Astana rider Vincenzo Nibali looks the outright favourite and probably still is, but he still has to get through."

It is disappointing that Britain only has two riders left in the race. Myself and first-year pro Simon Yates - he is like I was on my first Tour in 2007 and it was great to see him get a break. Hopefully he can keep doing bits for his team.

This Tour is a bit of a reality check for the British public though. Since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, everything we've touched has turned to gold.

We've won countless Olympic and world titles on the track, the road race world title with Cav, two Tours de France with Brad and Chris. A lot of fans new to cycling have just seen the success, but this week has shown that nothing is guaranteed in sport.

British cycling is enjoying a massive boom time though and it was brilliant to see so many fans on the roadside for the Grand Depart.

Thanks for all your support in Yorkshire and the stage from Cambridge to London - it gave me a massive buzz seeing all the British and Welsh flags.

Supporters flocked to the Yorkshire Dales in their hundreds of thousands to watch the Tour cycle past

Supporters flocked to the Yorkshire Dales in their hundreds of thousands to watch the Tour go past

It was an unbelievable three days and something I'll remember for the rest of my life. The crowds were brilliant and it was like riding up L'Alpe d'Huez for 200km on each day.

Maybe when the Tour comes back to Britain they should start it in Cardiff, right outside the castle, and we can take in some of the glorious Welsh scenery.

While you're reading this, I'll either be having a lie-in, a bit of a bike ride or a massage. Or maybe I'll already have my feet up. I plan to spend more of the day horizontal than vertical, but I'll be back with more on next Monday's second rest day.

Geraint Thomas was speaking to BBC Sport's Rob Hatch. You can listen to more from Geraint on BBC Radio 5 live's Bespoke on Tuesday at 21:00 BST.