Geraint Thomas suffers Olympic road race heartbreak again as Team GB star pulls out of event after suffering crash in Japan… five years on from falling off his bike at the Rio Olympics
Geraint Thomas’ medal hopes in the Olympic road race came to an early end after another 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, with Thomas landing on his right side.
Geraint Thomas has pulled out of the Olympic road race after falling off his bike in Japan
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.
Thomas’s exit leaves just three Team GB stars in the race, Simon and Adam Yates and Hart – who rallied after his fall early in the race.
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.
Galashina barely made it to the final, grabbing the last of the eight qualifying slots, but was in pole position for gold until she cracked under the pressure.
Her last shot of 8.9 was the lowest of any competitor in the final, leaving her on a total of 251.1.
The Team GB star crashed twice in the Tour de France and has suffered the same fate again
Yang was not immune to the pressure at the Asaka Shooting Range but her below-par final shot of 9.8 was still enough to snatch the gold with an Olympic record total of 251.8.
Switzerland’s Nina Christen won the bronze, while American world number two Mary Tucker was eliminated early and finished sixth.
Supporters and team-mates watched the nail-biting final in the stands, cheering to the rock music piped into the venue.
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.