Geraint Thomas says Alberto Contador's absence will have a mixed effect on how much work Sky will have to do in the remainder of the Tour de France

Geraint Thomas sympathised yesterday with Tinkoff-Saxo, being able to relate to losing a team leader and Tour de France title contender within the first phase of the race.

Tinkoff-Saxo is yet to confirm a new race approach following the withdrawal of Alberto Contador during yesterday’s 10th stage, which saw Sky’s Plan B, Richie Porte, move into second overall.

The Australian Porte was quickly elevated from chief lieutenant to designated leader following the abandonment of Chris Froome, who, like Contador, withdrew due to a crash-related injury last week.

Tinkoff and Astana, which is working for current maillot jaune Vincenzo Nibali, had such a presence in the first phase of racing that some teams suggested after the ninth consecutive day of racing that the Tour had already become a two-horse race.

Contador’s absence now changes any possibility of that and perhaps puts more of an onus on Astana to work, which may favour other teams with general classification aims.

“For sure it makes it, not easier but it’s one less rival to beat for the podium or the win,” Thomas said of Contador’s absence.

“Tactically it doesn’t change too much. We’ve just got to follow really until the last week and see where we are.

“For sure it means Saxo won’t be riding, which would have been nice, but I guess it’s one of those things.”

BMC leader Tejay van Garderen finished sixth, a place ahead of Porte, at the end of stage 10 and was 22 seconds adrift of winner Nibali at La Planche des Belles Filles yesterday.

The American witnessed Contador’s crash, or one of, and predicted his absence will have a noticeable effect.

“It was just a wet road, rough road, descent, dangerous corner and he just slipped off,” van Garderen recalled at the finish.

“That’s a big impact on the race. You saw with the way he rode the other day, with his team, setting a hard tempo on the climb and him riding an aggressive style. It changes how the race is going to be ridden. It’s a real pity.”

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