Geraint Thomas has bemoaned his bad fortune after his medal hopes in the Olympic road race came to an early end after a ‘freak crash’ for the former Tour de France winner.
Thomas was bidding to avoid the same heartbreak of Rio de Janeiro five years ago, when he also came off his bike in the road race. The 35-year-old had suffered two crashes at last month’s Tour, also.
However, the Welshman and Great Britain team-mate Tao Geoghegan Hart were caught in a spill around 70 kilometres into the 234km race to the Fuji International Speedway, after Hart’s front wheel came off, with Thomas landing on his right side.
Geraint Thomas pulled out of the Olympic road race after falling off his bike in Japan
The 35-year-old suffered a crash with Team GB star Tao Geoghegan Hart at Mount Fuji
The Welshman cut a dejected figure after crashing again, but got back on his bike immediately
Thomas visited the medical car and later pulled out of the race with 60km remaining
After visiting the medical car, Thomas managed to hunt down and rejoin the peloton before the Fuji Sanroku climb, the biggest climb of the road race.
The 35-year-old held onto the back of the peloton but was struggling and stepped off his bike after the first passage of the finish line at the motor circuit, with 60km of the race remaining.
‘I’m feeling beaten up but not too bad,’ Thomas said. ‘I’ve definitely felt worse. The muscles and everything went into spasm almost.
‘It was a freak thing, Tao slipped on the metal ridge in the middle of the road and I had nowhere to go, I just went straight down.
‘It’s disappointing after all the hard work and sacrifice, especially after the Tour and everything that happened there, but we live to fight another day and I’ll try to rest up now to give Wednesday one last go.’
Thomas’s Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Richard Carapaz went on to win the race, becoming only the second Ecuadorian to ever win Gold at the Olympics.
Carapaz, third in the Tour de France last week, rode clear of Brandon McNulty with six kilometres of the demanding 234km race to the Fuji International Speedway and held off the chasing pack.
Britain’s Adam Yates was part of a nine-man chasing group who crossed the line 67 seconds later.
Thomas was bidding for a better outcome after crashing at the Rio Olympics five years ago
The 35-year-old crashed in Brazil and was unable to win a medal at the Games on that occasion
Thomas was looking to put those bad memories from Rio behind him as he competed in Japan
The Team GB star crashed twice in the Tour de France and has suffered the same fate again
Thomas’s Team Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Richard Carapaz won the race on Saturday, becoming the second Ecuadorian to ever win an Olympic Gold medal
The Lancastrian had launched his sprint first, knowing surprise was his best opportunity, but he was soon swept up as Wout Van Aert pipped Tour winner Tadej Pogacar to silver on the line.
Adam’s twin brother Simon was 17th in a group that finished three and a half minutes back.
Thomas took to Twitter to bemoan his bad luck after his early exit.
‘All good with me. Thanks for the messages!! Think I must have done something bad in a previous life,’ he tweeted to his 482,000 followers.
‘Freak crash, Tao lost his front wheel and decked it in front of me. I had nowhere to go, other than the floor as well’.
The Welshman’s latest heartache follows on from the Tour, where he dislocated his shoulder early on, but battled through to finish the race.
Thomas took to Twitter to rue his misfortune after another crash in a matter of weeks
Thomas will have a shot at redemption in the men’s time trial next week, as the 2018 Tour winner looks to put Saturday’s crash behind him.
Elsewhere, China‘s Yang Qian claimed the first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday after prevailing in a battle of nerves with Russian Anastasiia Galashina in the women’s 10-metre rifle competition.
Supporters and team-mates watched the nail-biting final in the stands, cheering to the rock music piped into the venue.
Meanwhile, China’s Yang Qian claimed the first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday
When International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach presented the medals, the athletes all waved their sunflower bouquets towards the crowd, their smiles obscured behind their masks.
‘I was really nervous. The competition was really tight, but I’m so happy that I could win,’ Yang said after winning an event which did not feature a single medallist from Rio.
‘We did train how to perform under pressure. The coaches would actually create a nerve-wracking atmosphere and try to pressure us,’ she later told reporters.