Defending Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) has paid tribute to cycling TV commentator and former pro Paul Sherwen, who died suddenly of heart failure in early December at his home in Uganda.
A memorial service is set to be held for Sherwen on Wednesday afternoon in Manchester Cathedral.
“I had a little bit to do with him, but [the news of his death] was really sad news to hear; he was one of the voices of cycling,” Thomas told Cyclingnews the evening before the start of his first race of 2019, the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana on Wednesday.
“Whenever you hear his voice, it just reminds you of watching bike racing.”
Thomas said he vividly remembered listening to Sherwen as a commentator on the Tour de France when he was growing up and as a younger bike rider. “His voice is iconic,” he added.
As for Thomas himself, the Tour de France champion will race the Valenciana for the first time in his career, after usually opting for a later season start in Portugal’s Volta ao Algarve, where he finished second overall and won a stage last February.
Speaking shortly before the team presentation in the stage 1 start town of Orihuela, Thomas told Cyclingnews that Sky teammates Diego Rosa and David De La Cruz will be the team’s nominated leaders for the Valenciana.
"They’ll be doing GC. I’m here purely for a good hard workout," he said.
“I’m ready to race. I’m not thinking too much about the podium because I started three weeks later and I normally start in the Algarve as well, and yeah, I’m just looking forward to getting back on the bus with the boys and racing.”
The 32-year-old says he has seen that the time trial that constitutes Wednesday’s opening stage, “has a nasty kick at the end. I’ve seen a few videos. Obviously, I’ll go out, give it everything I’ve got, see what I’ve got, it’ll be a good test.
“Then the rest of the race just work hard. I’m happy to do that at any point. I’m not going to be sitting in and trying to save everything for the Saturday. I want just to work hard all week and use it as a good block of racing.”