VAL DI ZOLDO, Italy—Geraint Thomas celebrated his 37th birthday with another strong ride in the mountains to retain the pink jersey in the 18th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday.
Thomas crossed immediately behind Primoz Roglic, who moved up from third place to second.
“The legs have been good,” Thomas said. “Need to enjoy these moments.”
Joao Almeida dropped from second to third overall after losing 21 seconds over the 161-kilometer (100-mile) route from Oderzo to Val di Zoldo, which included two first-category climbs followed by two second-category climbs in the finale — including an uphill finish.
Thomas — the 2018 Tour de France champion — leads Roglic by 29 seconds and Almeida by 39 seconds.
“It’s a pleasant day. I take time on Almeida and didn’t get dropped by Primoz,” Thomas said. “I felt pretty good, always under control but Primoz obviously went hard. It wasn’t easy. … I just want to be consistent until the end.
“Primoz, Joao and I are pretty similar. They each had a bad day and it could be me tomorrow. I don’t get carried away, I just do the basics,” Thomas added. “I’m sure it will go down to the TT on the last mountain day.”
Italian champion Filippo Zanna won the stage ahead of fellow breakaway rider Thibaut Pinot in a two-man sprint.
With only two more climbing stages remaining before the mostly ceremonial finish in Rome on Sunday, Thomas is poised to become the oldest Giro winner in history — beating the record of Fiorenzo Magni, who was 34 when he won in 1955.
Chris Horner holds the record for oldest Grand Tour champion, set when he won the Spanish Vuelta in 2013 at 41.
However, Thomas will still be tested over the next two days.
Stage 19 on Friday is considered perhaps the race’s toughest, a 183-kilometer (114-mile) leg from Longarone to Tre Cime Di Lavaredo featuring five major climbs. Then there’s a mountain time trial on Saturday.
Image credits: AP