Giro d'Italia still a possibility for Geraint Thomas

Brailsford says final decision is still to be taken

Geraint Thomas may yet ride the 2019 Giro d’Italia, according to Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford, who suggested that a final decision on his participation will be taken in the coming weeks.

In a statement released by Team Sky on January 1, Thomas said that defending his Tour de France title would be his main target in 2019, and appeared to rule out the prospect of riding the Giro.

In recent days, however, Italian media outlets have reported that Thomas was still entertaining the possibility of riding the Giro, where Egan Bernal and Gianni Moscon have already been pencilled in to lead the line for Team Sky.

Speaking to reporters at an event in Pinerolo on Thursday evening, Brailsford would neither confirm nor deny rumours of Thomas’ participation in the Giro.

"He’ll come back soon from a period of training in the United States, he’ll start his season at the Volta Valenciana, and then we’ll take stock," Brailsford said, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Asked to comment on Thomas and the Giro by Il Corriere della Sera, Brailsford said: "We’ll talk about it in a couple of weeks, when we have decided."

Brailsford was in Italy on Thursday evening at an event to present the Cuneo-Pinerolo stage of this year’s Giro and to honour the epic Cuneo-Pinerolo stage of the 1949 Giro, where Fausto Coppi soloed to a stirring victory.

Thomas has been training in Los Angeles in recent weeks and will start his 2019 season at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana on February 6. He is also likely to ride Tirreno-Adriatico in March.

Thomas last rode the Giro in 2017, when he lined up alongside Mikel Landa as Team Sky’s joint leader, but was forced to abandon in the second week after crashing at the foot of the Blockhaus on stage 9.

The Welshman was initially slated to lead Team Sky at the 2018 Giro but stepped aside when Froome announced his desire to ride the corsa rosa. Froome proceeded to win the Giro, while Thomas went on to claim the Tour in July.

2019

Thomas and Froome are both scheduled to ride the Tour in 2019, and in January, the defending champion appeared to rule out the idea of attempting the Giro-Tour double this season.

"Maybe if I hadn’t won the Tour in 2018 I might have looked at a Giro/Vuelta programme but, having won the Tour, I’ll have the number one on my back and it would be sad not to go back and not to go back at 100 per cent as well," Thomas said.

With Team Sky seeking a new sponsor to guarantee their existence beyond the end of this season, however, they might yet be persuaded to deploy Thomas alongside Egan Bernal at the Giro in May.

Chris Froome, meanwhile, was among the guests in Pinerolo on Thursday night, and he categorically ruled out the idea of riding the Giro this year, though he pledged to return to the race before he calls time on his career.

"It was a tough decision not to defend the title in 2019, but there’s no doubt that I’ll come back to the Giro soon," Froome told La Gazzetta.

Froome added that he believes Bernal – who only turned 22 this month – is capable of winning the Giro this year: "He’s already ready to win. The corsa rosa will be a big opportunity for him."

The event in Pinerolo on Thursday evening was attended by a litany of stars past and present, with Eddy Merckx, Mario Cipollini, Felice Gimondi, Francesco Moser, Giuseppe Saronni, Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru among those present.

Nibali has already confirmed that he will ride both the Giro and the Tour in 2019, though he downplayed the notion that he was expressly targeting the double. "I never spoke about the double, the focus is on trying to win a third Giro," Nibali said.

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