NICE, France (AFP) – There can't be many tougher riders out there than Geraint Thomas, who showed signs that he is putting behind him the pelvis fracture suffered just 72 hours earlier with a combative ride in the team time-trial.
Thomas, the two-time Olympic team pursuit gold medallist, suffered the injury in the mass fall that marred the end of stage one, but he grimaced through the pain to complete stage two into Ajaccio before the fracture was even confirmed, and the Welshman was visibly struggling on Monday, when the Tour completed it's passage through Corsica.
The short 25-kilometre team time-trial around Nice for stage four was much more bearable, even if Thomas admitted that the pain caused by his pelvis made him feel like he had stabbed himself as he helped Team Sky finish in third place, three seconds behind winners Orica-Greenedge.
"It was like the Olympic final for me," said Thomas, one of the stars of Britain's triumphant showing at the London 2012 Games.
"The start was always going to be the hardest bit for me because it was that real high-power acceleration. Up until today I've not been able to go out of the saddle and put any power in with my left leg, but I had an extra-long warm-up and a couple of coffees."
Nobody in the peloton enjoyed the 145-kilometre ride on Monday that took the peloton up the perennially winding and dipping roads of Corsica's west coast, but for Thomas the struggle was even greater.
"On a road stage the pain is there the whole time. You have time to think about it, whereas in a time-trial you just go and do it.
"It's like -- not that I do it -- if you stab yourself. The pain's just instant and it's done rather than somebody giving you a Chinese burn for three hours.
"It would have been nice to have been 100 percent fit for here because it's the type of course that I really like, but that is sport and that's life."
Sky principal Dave Brailsford and team leader Chris Froome heaped praise on Thomas for his display of bravery, which was key in helping Froome open up a gap on his main rivals in the general classification.
"I think the big story we can talk about today is Geraint Thomas getting through in the way that he did," said Froome.
"He has been in a great deal of pain these last few days so to see him do that lifted all of our spirits knowing that he can go forward from here in the Tour."
"All credit to Geraint," added Brailsford. "I think he still has to take things day by day, but if you can do what he did today then you're not in bad nick to be fair."
Meanwhile, despite declaring himself satisfied with the performance, Brailsford insisted there is no time for celebration in the Sky ranks, with the focus firmly on Wednesday's stage, a long 228-kilometre ride from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Marseille.
"No celebrating for us. It's business as usual. You've just got to keep focusing on the process, and you can't let up. You've got to keep thinking about recovery, and be in the best possible shape," he said.