Geraint Thomas said he had a “decent day” on his 37th birthday on Thursday as he kept the Giro d’Italia‘s leader’s pink jersey and withstood an attack by Primoz Roglic that shook off all the other GC contenders.
On the first of three brutal days in the Dolomites, local boy Filippo Zana edged Thibaut Pinot in an exhausted dash to the line to win the 18th stage of the race.
Down the mountain, Roglic, paced by team-mate Sepp Kuss, went on the attack from the group of leading riders.
The Jumbo-Visma pair quickly dropped all their main rivals except Thomas who stuck to Roglic’s rear wheel and celebrated his birthday by keeping the leader’s pink jersey.
UAE Team Emirates’ Joao Almeida dropped down to third overall, after finishing ninth near the Austrian border.
“Decent day,” said Thomas. “To gain time on Almeida and not get dropped by Primoz is a good day – a solid day for sure. I felt pretty good, pretty in control”.
“In the last two kilometres he really squeezed on again. He was really strong but I’m happy with how I was,” Thomas added.
He remained 29 seconds ahead of Roglic who took back the second place he lost to Joao Almeida on Tuesday.
“Primoz had a bad day the other day, Almeida today. I’ve just got to keep being consistent. Just take it day by day, climb by climb,” Thomas said.
After the top three there is a gap to Eddy Dunbar who is fourth at 2 minutes, 39 seconds.
Friday’s 19th stage is a 183km ride from Longarone to Tre Cime di Lavaredo that includes five significant peaks.
Saturday’s penultimate stage is a ferocious 18.6km uphill time trial.