Froome's Giro participation ensured he was absent from this year's Criterium du Dauphine as he rested up ahead of the Tour, where he will attempt to complete a rare Giro-Tour double. Thomas was clearly the strongest rider in the field, moving up into the top five after Sky won the team time trial, and then remaining consistent in the mountains.
"Ive been feeling good all year", the Irishman said after the race. "Recovery went well and I knew in the final I needed to wait a bit, the past few days I went too early and I needed to wait, wait, wait, bide my time and kick for the line", he said. Bilbao made his move late on during the gruelling stage that is nearly the same as stage 11 in the Tour de France next month, with four major climbs and a summit finish at la Rosiere.
"It's not a great situation for him, the team or just cycling in general", Thomas said.
"Each kilometre I was more confident and happier".
"My role in the team will be as one of the protected guys, Froome is going to be one of the leaders".
"It was a hard stage, especially back to back with yesterday's, which was hard too".
Team Sky's Thomas suffered two punctures during the 136km stage from Moutiers to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc, but took a wheel from a teammate on the second occasion and was paced back to the peloton by Michal Kwiatkowski and Dylan van Baarle.
Having been the last man standing in support of Thomas, meanwhile, Tao Geoghegan Hart climbed to 13th overall to follow his fifth place in support of Egan Arley Bernal's Amgen Tour of California win last month.