Tour de France is 'a mental game now' – Geraint Thomas
Geraint Thomas is convinced the Tour de France has come down to a battle of wits between the leading riders after closing the gap to Julian Alaphilippe.
French hope Alaphilippe remains in the yellow jersey but his lead over defending champion Thomas, who sits second, has come down to one minute, 35 seconds.
Thomas moved 37 seconds closer to the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider on Sunday, and was relishing Monday's rest day before the push for Paris resumes.
There are still mountains to come as the riders enter the final week of the Tour and head into the Alps, with plenty of scope for change in the general classification.
Legs were good in the final. It’s some race this Bring on the Alps #lookafterthepenniesandthepoundslookafterthemselves#letshaveitpic.twitter.com/EfWJ9aNogk— Geraint Thomas (@GeraintThomas86) July 21, 2019
For Thomas, last year's triumph could be all-important given he knows what it takes to get over the final challenges posed on the road to the French capital.
"There's so many guys still in the mix this year. It's such a mental game now," Welshman Thomas said.
"Everyone will be feeling it, but you need to try and block out the tiredness - bite the bullet and dig in.
"For sure I will look back and draw on my experiences from last year and hopefully that will help - I was suffering at times then as well - the rest day will be welcome for everyone!"
HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the exciting finale to stage 15 which saw another GC shake-up in the last stage before the second rest day pic.twitter.com/4bQBBHwF8E— Team INEOS (@TeamINEOS) July 21, 2019
Thomas was shepherded through a key stage of the ride from Limoux to Foix Prat d'Albis by Team INEOS colleague Wout Poels, once Alaphilippe followed an attack by Thibaut Pinot.
After a tricky Saturday, when Thomas toiled on the brutal final ascent of Tourmalet, it was back to normal order as he went past Alaphilippe with two kilometres left to race.
"I felt better than yesterday, for sure," Thomas said, on his team's website. "It was similar to yesterday, in that I needed to try and pace it when it all kicked off - fair play to Wout, he was great at that point.
"Then I got stuck by Alaphilippe - and I obviously didn’t want to pull at that stage with him in the wheel, so we let him ride a bit and I jumped with around 2km to go.
"Tactics-wise, we were stuck a bit between a rock and a hard place, but the positive is that the legs responded a little bit better today. It was a decent day all round to be honest."
Fellow Briton Simon Yates took the stage-15 win, his second of the Tour for the Mitchelton-Scott team, with Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) in second place.
Bernal crossed the line fifth and also sits fifth overall.
The Colombian said it was vital for the two leading Team INEOS riders to collaborate and ride with a plan as they near the closing stages of the race.
"We need to win the race for Team INEOS, it's not about Geraint or Egan," said Bernal. "It is always about the team."
All riders take a breather on Monday before returning to action in Tuesday's stage 16, a 177km ride that begins and ends in Nimes.