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Michael Woods apologises to Geraint Thomas for Tour de France crash

Michael Woods apologises to Geraint Thomas for Tour de France crash
© Reuters
Thomas was grateful for a drama-free day on Sunday as Daryl Impey took a superb breakaway stage win in Brioude.

Geraint Thomas got an apology from Michael Woods a day after the spectacular crash that threatened to derail his defence of the Tour de France title.

Thomas was grateful for a drama-free day on Sunday as Daryl Impey took a superb breakaway stage win in Brioude.

The South African finished more than 16 minutes before the peloton ambled over the line to keep Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe in the yellow jersey on Bastille Day.

Defending champion Thomas, fifth and 72 seconds off yellow, was in the main group, showing no ill effects of Saturday's incident which sent him barrelling over the handlebars and onto the bike of team-mate Gianni Moscon.

EF Education First's Woods slid on a downhill corner, just in front of the Team Ineos train which had nowhere to go.

"It was my fault," said the Canadian rider, a latecomer to the sport whose descending skills have been questioned in the past.

"If I was (Ineos), if I was him, I certainly wouldn't be too happy with Mike Woods right now. They have a reason to be upset.

"That being said, every pro cyclist has made that mistake, Geraint Thomas did that a couple of years ago when he went straight off the road and (Chris) Froome's done it.

"It was just crap that I did it and it ended up affecting someone else's race, so I'm not happy about that."

Team Ineos, in their former guise as Sky, were known for bossing the peloton from the front on big climbing days whether they held the yellow jersey or not, but have been noticeable for their absence so far this year.

The strategy has been to save energy for the big mountain tests to come, and though it almost proved costly on Saturday, Thomas said there was no need to change.

"It's just one of those things," he said. "These crashes happen. It wasn't like Woodsy meant to crash. They do seem to happen a lot to me though. But like I say I've been fortunate there's been no real damage."

There was no such incidents on Sunday, with the general classification contenders untroubled and the sprint teams eyeing Monday's opportunity in Albi.

With the 170.5km stage from Saint Etienne always pegged for a breakaway it took little time for a powerful 15-man group to form, with Team Sunweb's Nicolas Roche, EF Education First's Simon Clarke, and Bora-Hansgrohe's Lukas Postlberger among those on board as they built a lead of more than 10 minutes.

After Postlberger attacked 40km from home the riders began to splinter, and Roche was part of a seven-man group that reeled in the Austrian on the Cote de Saint-Just.

The Irishman swiftly launched another attack that only Lotto-Soudal's Tiesj Benoot and Adam Yates' team-mate Impey could follow before they left Roche behind on the approach to Brioude.

Impey then out-sprinted Benoot to take his first solo stage win in the Tour, though he was part of Orica-GreenEdge's team time trial success in Nice in 2013 and two days later became the first African to wear the yellow jersey in Montpellier.

"For me, from a Tour de France perspective, a stage win was something really missing," the Mitchelton-Scott rider said. "I made quite a few breakaways in the past few years and finally, today, I got the win on Bastille Day. It's fantastic."

Roche had to settle for sixth place on the day, 14 seconds after Impey.

"My plan was to give everything on that last climb," the 35-year-old said. "I had my shot today and unfortunately I didn't get the top result I wanted but sixth place isn't too bad."

There were no moves in the peloton until Romain Bardet, born and raised in Brioude and still resident just up the road, put in an attack on the final climb but Ineos soon shut the move down.

"We had to be aware of it, but Bardet's quite far down on GC but Richie (Porte) and (George) Bennett were there and we don't want to give them any time back if we don't have to," Thomas said.

"The boys controlled it really well. Other than that, it was a pretty stress-free day and a nice ride in the end."

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Geraint Thomas in action at the Tour de France on July 7, 2019
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