Boardman makes Thomas still Tour favourite as he doubts Alaphilippe and Pinot

By Ben Spratt 17 July 2019 3
Boardman makes Thomas still Tour favourite as he doubts Alaphilippe and Pinot

Defending champion Geraint Thomas should still be considered the Tour de France favourite after 10 stages, according to Chris Boardman, but Julian Alaphilippe and Thibaut Pinot may struggle to maintain a challenge through to Paris.

Thomas is second in the General Classification on the first rest day, one minute and 12 seconds behind leader Alaphilippe, having benefited from Pinot's struggles in crosswinds on Monday.

And while the Welshman still has work to do to claim the yellow jersey, three-time stage-winner Boardman suggests, with a long way to go, the Team INEOS star has the confidence and quality to retain his crown.

“Geraint Thomas is still very much the favourite - after yesterday's stage [10], where he fared better than all the other General Classification contenders, even more so, I think," Boardman told Omnisport.

"Last year was his breakthrough year, not just with his physiology - he had that for a long time if you go back and look - but [before] maybe he didn't believe that he could and didn't need to win.

"He always put himself in the service of someone else. Last year was the first time that he rode for himself and proved that it was possible.

"And now he's armed with that information. He has the capability and now he has the belief that he can do it as well."

Boardman is less convinced by fellow contenders Alaphilippe and Pinot, however, expecting the leader to suffer in the time trials while questioning the mental strength of the latter, who is now 11th.

"I think [Alaphilippe] can fight for a good General Classification place," he said. "He's a very flamboyant and entertaining rider to watch - very much like Peter Sagan - but I don't think he's quite there for overall contention.

"His time-trialling is not the strongest, but he's a brilliant rider to watch. The French, in general, look stronger en masse this year and I think we might see some more from them.

"Pinot's not finished. I think the mental strength is virtually as important as physical. What people don't see is a few days earlier Geraint Thomas has a crash with a few kilometres to go and fights back, sorted it out, so no-one even notices it.

"But being able to deal with adversity is a big part of being a champion, being able to deal with it, put it to one side and move on and carry on with whatever ingredients you've got left.

"I think that might be a lesson he's got to learn."

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Ben Spratt