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Geraint Thomas expects to defend tour prize despite heavy fall

Concern: Thomas sits up after his accident in Switzerland

GERAINT THOMAS insisted his hopes of defending the Tour de France crown he won last year remain intact despite dramatically crashing out of the Tour de Suisse yesterday.

The Team Ineos rider was forced to abandon the week-long race, a key part of his preparations for next month’s grand tour, after a heavy fall on a descent on stage four.

Thomas’ accident comes just six days after team-mate Chris Froome was ruled out of the Tour – and likely sidelined for at least six months – with multiple fractures sustained in a high-speed crash at the Criterium du Dauphine.

But Team Ineos said the Welshman’s involvement was not likely to be affected, with Thomas planning to work with coach Tim Kerrison to ensure he is raring to go.

‘Clearly it’s frustrating and a small setback for my Tour de France preparations, but there’s still plenty of time before we start in Brussels in a few weeks’ time,’ said Thomas.

‘We will re-calibrate and I’m sure my coach will have a plan in place to ensure I’m ready for July 6.’

On his accident in the Swiss mountains, Thomas said: ‘There was a lip in the road that came out of nowhere. An Astana rider hit the lip and crashed and I had nowhere to go.

‘I landed on my shoulder and my face and there was quite a bit of blood. You’ve always got to be cautious with a head injury, and whilst I was keen to carry on, the doctors made the right decision to pull me out of the race.’

Thomas is due to lead Ineos at the Tour following Froome’s own crash.

The four-time Tour winner needed extensive surgery following his high-speed accident, which left him with multiple injuries, including a broken femur, broken ribs and a fracture in his neck.

Italian Elia Viviani went on to claim the stage win in Switzerland. Peter Sagan leads Australian Michael Matthews by ten seconds overall, with Kasper Asgreen in third.