LANDERNEAU, France (Reuters) - Geraint Thomas was happy just to survive a brutal opening day on the Tour de France after the first stage was marred by two huge crashes that saw two of his fellow Ineos-Grenadiers overall contenders losing time on Saturday.
"It was a solid day, stressful with a few crashes. In the big crash at the end I had no idea who was in it," the 2018 Tour champion, who is a favourite this year, told reporters.
"It ended up with (team mate) Richie (Porte) being in it which wasn't great. I was just concentrating on staying on my bike basically," added Thomas.
He crossed the line in 10th place - eight seconds behind stage winner Julian Alaphilippe of France after the 197.8-km ride from Brest that ended with a short, steep climb up to the Cote de la Fosse aux Loups.
Team mates Porte and Tao Geoghegan Hart were involved in separate crashes and ended up 2:16 and 5:33 off the pace respectively in a massive blow to their overall chances.
"I was too far back on that last climb," added Thomas.
"At the time I thought it's okay, I'll sit here and then slowly move up when it lulls. I was expecting it to lull after the steep bit and then move up a bit. But it never lulled. I think because Alaphilippe went so hard for so long, it was just full gas all the way up.
"It made my life a bit harder. But for me personally it's not too bad. I never feel 100% on the first stage after a few easy days. Happy to get through it but gutted about Richie and Tao."
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)