Team Sky head Dave Brailsford believes that Geraint Thomas should remain with the British WorldTour team despite being courted by other teams following his recent Tour de France victory. In an interview with the BBC on Wednesday, Brailsford said, "I am pretty positive this is the best team for Geraint."
Thomas, 32, became the first Welshman to win the Tour de France on Sunday in Paris, while his Team Sky teammate and former four-time Tour winner Chris Froome placed third.
Thomas' contract with Team Sky expires at the end of this year, and as expected, other teams have expressed an interest in signing him for future seasons. He had intended to confirm his future plans in June, and said that he had offers from other teams but that he felt at home at Team Sky.
Brailsford said that he understood that rival teams would be making offers to Thomas, and that he would have a "big decision" to make in either choosing to stay with Team Sky or moving on to a new outfit.
"It's not unusual that these guys win something big and it puts them in a different place to when they started out," Brailsford told the BBC. "With the contract negotiations we will sit down and thrash it all out.
"We're a team that wants him, a team where he has been very successful, one where he knows the staff. Like anyone he is entitled to listen to other options, but I'd like to think we will get it all sorted out."
Thomas has played an integral role in the success of Froome's four Tour de France titles, first in 2013 and then his three successive titles between 2015 and 2017. This year, Thomas prepared to co-lead the team largely because Froome's participation in the race was in question while he battled a lengthy investigation surrounding his salbutamol case. Froome won the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España last year, and went on to win the Giro d'Italia in May, so it was also unclear if he would be fatigued compared to previous years.
In the end, the UCI closed Froome's salbutamol case, clearing him of any wrongdoing, and he took his place on the start line of the Tour de France as the defending champion and as co-leader alongside Thomas.
The two were left to hash out who would lead the team on the road. Froome suffered misfortune in the opening stages while Thomas went on to race a near-perfect Tour de France, winning two stages and claiming the victory.
Sealing the overall title at the Tour de France, however, doesn't automatically give Thomas security as the outright leader at Team Sky. That role will likely remain with Froome next year, and Thomas would likely have to go to a new team if he wants to be the leading man.
Brailsford pointed out that Thomas and Froome would probably remain competitive whether they were on the same team or on rival teams, and that Thomas should stay with his position at Team Sky. The team roster also includes revelation Egan Bernal, who was the youngest rider at the Tour de France this year and excelled in his support role for both Thomas and Froome. After such a performance, many believe him to be lined up as a future Tour de France contender himself.
"It's always been the case at Team Sky that we have individuals who can perform at the highest level," Brailsford said. "In our sport you don't sit down and write a name on a piece of paper at this stage and say he will be the team leader next year.
"Take Geraint, for example, in order to win the Tour de France he would have to beat Chris Froome and Egan Bernal. In our sport it has a structure where you're on a team with someone but to win you have to be better than them, whether you're in another team or in that team. You have to think of the environment you're in."
Brailsford went on to say that at Thomas and Froome showed this year that they were able to work out team leadership during the race and in a respectful manner.
"They have been put in most situations you can imagine so they get it, and the key components when two guys are going for the same race you have to have are trust, openness and honesty," Brailsford said. "If you have those three things and there is a respect between the riders it will figure itself out on the road."