The Welshman, who had come to Birmingham following his surprise third-place finish at the Tour de France, had been one of the favourites for victory.
But he misjudged a corner very early on in his ride, hit a metal barrier and came crashing down to the tarmac. Seemingly uninjured, he returned to the saddle and resumed racing.
There was conjecture that he might retire when he gesticulated to the team car with concerns over his potentially damaged bike, but he carried on to the finish and took bronze.
The crash cost him something in the region of 30 seconds, which gave his rival for gold, Rohan Dennis, plenty of room to breathe as he won in 26.28secs ahead of silver medallist Fred Wright, of England. Wright’s time was just two seconds quicker than that of Thomas.
Afterwards, Thomas said: “It’s the same for everyone but we hadn’t ridden the course with a closed road properly. It was a sweeping left and I just clipped the barrier leg on the exit, I struggled to get the chain on and the brake was a bit bent. But it was my fault and it is what it is.”
Wright’s surprise silver continued his own good form from the Tour and was watched by the side of the road by his family. His father Philip is an actor, who has appeared in Eastenders and Line of Duty among other things, while it continued family celebrations the day after his sister had graduated from university.
And Wright said: “I’m so happy with my shape. After the Tour, you can either be on fire or a bit fatigued. I’d like to say I was on fire. To be mixing it with the likes of G [Thomas] and Rohan, I knew I’d do a good time trial today but maybe not quite as good as that. G would have had me if he didn’t crash, I think, but it’s still a medal.”
It proved a tough day on the road for other British riders too as Dan Bigham, of England, who had been going well, took a corner a little too fast and ended up embedding his bike as he flipped over the handlebars. He had been running in fifth at the time and with an eye on the podium. He eventually finished 12th.
England’s Anna Henderson took silver in the women’s time trial, 33secs behind gold medallist Grace Brown as Australia won the double in the event.
Following that runners-up spot, the 23-year-old Henderson said: “It’s really good. I think second was the best I could do today so I’m really happy. Sometimes the corners were a bit hairy but I’m really pleased with how I paced it and how I felt. I’m really pleased with where I’m going and hopefully I can continue it.”