Geraint Thomas walks off the podium in Paris at the end of the 2022 Tour de France.

Geraint Thomas sets sights on the Giro: Tour de France? Completed it, mate

The route announcements, and distinct lack of TT kilometres in France, solidified the 2018 Tour champion's objectives for 2023.

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Geraint Thomas provided a compelling storyline at this year’s Tour de France, if not as a real contender (despite coming a convincing third) then as a quietly resurgent totem for the older generation of riders, a dying breed in stage racing. Next year, however, it looks likely that the Welshman will choose the Giro d’Italia over the Tour de France.

The decision came after the announcement of both Giro and Tour routes, which Thomas found perplexing to say the least.

“I’m not too sure why they’ve done that,” Thomas told CyclingNews in Saitama, referring to the alarming lack of kilometres against the clock at next year’s Tour. “When I did my first Tour in 2007 – OK, it was a long time ago – it had two TTs of 50km plus, so it’s quite extreme to go the other way like that.

“Those TT days are big iconic stages as well. This year there were only three big bunch sprints, which are iconic stages as well. Maybe they’re just trying to mix it up completely. I think it’s disappointing there’s not more [time trialling].”

Having arrived in France this July as underdog leader-cum-protected super domestique, Thomas surprised everyone including his team by taking third behind the ‘little whippersnappers’ who tussled over yellow. The 36-year-old sat sixth overall after stage 6 – third Ineos Grenadier behind Adam Yates and Tom Pidcock – before bouncing up to third with a throwback performance on La Super Planche de Belles Filled the very next day, finishing fifth just 14 seconds behind the leaders. 

He dropped off the virtual podium in the Alps, but even that was just thanks to a breakaway having its fun. In short, the Welshman held fast and ultimately solidified a very convincing third overall, 4:39 from second-place Tadej Pogačar (himself 2:43 behind Jonas Vingegaard) and 6:17 ahead of the rest.

With that, Thomas ‘completed’ the Tour podium, adding the lower step to first and second in 2018 and ’19 respectively. Perhaps with that in mind, he was already thinking that he would refocus his attention on the Giro next year. He also conceded that though his time trial ability has given him the upper hand in the past, that’s no longer the case in GC circles, so the Giro’s 70-plus kilometres vs the Tour’s 22 is not a strong argument anymore.

Instead he looks forward to a different atmosphere, a different environment, and a chance to give the Giro a really good go.

“That’s what I was thinking anyway. The Giro is a lot less intense – just the atmosphere and everything. I’d like to ride it another time.”

Thomas has raced the Italian grand tour four times since his sophomore season in 2008, and only twice since redefining himself as a GC contender, crashing out of both in unfortunate circumstances.

“It’s a race I’ve always enjoyed, even if I’ve crashed out the last two times I’ve done it. It would be nice to go back and finish it,” he said. “There is a bit of [‘what might have been’]. In 2020 I felt in really good shape. Even one before that with the motorbike parked on the road… I really would have loved to have seen how I’d have done.”

It remains to be seen what sort of a campaign he puts together for the Giro, whether it’s a GC tilt or stage hunting, and indeed what status he can expect in the Ineos Grenadiers lineup. He was by no means number one on the call sheet this summer, though his Tour de Suisse victory helped him there, and a lot depends on the start of the 2023 season for all involved.

“How I treat it would just be to get to the Giro as best I can. Whether that ends up being going for stages or riding GC, that’s a different matter. But I’d really like to do the Giro.”

As Thomas goes into year 17 of his professional career, he’s relaxed and confident about his own approach, and he has the results to show it.

“It’ll be similar to the Tour this year – just get there in the best shape and go from there.”

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