Thomas: I would love to be a Grand Tour rider, but the chance won’t come this year
Victorious in the recent E3 Harelbeke, Geraint Thomas has shown he could have a future in the Classics. Even if Sunday’s Tour of Flanders didn’t work out as he hoped, with the Sky rider having to be content with 14th, his E3 result plus third in Gent-Wevelgem show that the 28 year old is on the shortlist of riders who can aim to win a Monument.
However the Welshman isn’t limiting his targets to the one day events. Asked if riding for Grand Tour classification is something he also hopes to do, he confirmed that it is an area of cycling that he wants to explore.
“I would, but not this year,” he told CyclingTips, speaking during Sky’s pre-Flanders press conference. “[This year] I am hoping to ride the Vuelta as well as the Tour.
“I think it is a long year when you start in Oz and then you do the Classics, the Tour. To try to go to the Vuelta and ride GC would I think be a bit much.”
Longer term, though, is potentially a different prospect. He said that while the presence of Chris Froome and Richie Porte would complicate those aspirations, he hoped that he would get his chance over time.
Froome won the 2013 Tour de France and took second in last year’s Vuelta a España. Porte took both Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya this season and is gearing up for a bid to take the Giro d’Italia.
He will then be the likely second leader at the Tour de France, with Thomas due to ride support for both of them.
“When you are in a team like Sky, it is not as easy as just saying I want to be a leader for a Grand Tour,” he explained. “The way Richie is going this year, Froomey, there are some other really good climbers as well.
“I think living down in Monaco with them around, training with them, chasing them up the climbs and whatever, learning off them – I think I am in the best place to put myself in a position to do that.”
Thomas has performed well this year in multi-day events, winning a stage plus the overall in the Volta ao Algarve and netting second on the mountain stage to Croix de Chaubouret plus fifth overall in Paris-Nice.
He may have finished higher in the latter but had a crash on the penultimate stage and lost time.
Like many aspiring Grand Tour riders, he wants to see if he can shine in the shorter events and then use that as a stepping stone to the longer contests.
“This year I was looking at the week-long stage races. Paris-Nice went well, it could have gone better if I just stayed on my bike,” he said. “So yeah, I think maybe a couple more week [long] races and try to gain that experience and that confidence, really and who knows?
“But like I say, we will have to see how the team fits with that.”
Team-mate Bradley Wiggins recently said that Thomas hadn’t got as much focus as he needed in the past but has now knuckled down.
Asked why his concentration wasn’t there, the Welshman said that he had different priorities but that they changed in recent years.
“I was always focussed, but I guess I was never the leader or anything,” he stated. “The road was more of a tool for the track. I still loved racing my bike. You dream of being a pro on the road and I still really enjoyed it, but I guess the track was still there in the back of my mind and I was 100 percent committed to that.”
He said that the change occurred after the London Olympics. “2013 was the first year. I wanted to start really well there and I went to Oz. I won that stage in Down Under and I have just committed to the road in the last years.
“I have kind of put all my energy into that now.”
Whether or not he shines in Roubaix, his aspirations for stage races mean that he isn’t content to just be a contender for the likes of E3 Harelbeke, Flanders and, possibly, Roubaix.