Team Sky celebrated Elia Viviani's sprint victory at the Dubai Tour on Thursday but misfortune spoilt their chances on Friday's uphill finish to Hatta Dam, with Ben Swift taken out of the reckoning by a puncture, leaving Geraint Thomas to try his best on the 17 per cent ramp to the finish.
The Welshman was well-placed near the front of the peloton in the final kilometre but could not match John Degenkolb's speed and big-ring power, finishing ninth at seven seconds.
“We were unlucky with Swifty puncturing with only nine kilometres to go and we also lost Puccio and Lopez with punctures at the same time,” Thomas told Cyclingnews as he recovered from his effort.
“We were just waiting and waiting, hoping he would come back. Then when I realised he wasn't going to make it, I tried to go for it myself. I was in an ideal position but I didn't quite have the legs. I started in the big ring which was a bit silly, so I dropped it down but I haven't got that kind of kick at the moment.”
Thinking of Paris-Nice, the cobbled Classics and the Vuelta
Thomas has consistently shown his potential in short stage races and especially the cobbled Classics, while also playing a key domestique role for Team Sky at the Tour de France.
In 2015 he has a similarly tough race programme, with an added goal of the world championships and the Vuelta a Espana.
“I've started the season off a little bit quieter than previous years because I'd like to ride the Classics, the Tour, the Vuelta and the world championships, so that's a long year ahead,” Thomas explained to Cyclingnews.
“I've want to give the Vuelta a good crack, not for the GC but to try for a stage and to help our leader. Then the worlds are also a goal.”
Thomas rode the Tour Down Under in support of Richie Porte. He revealed to Cyclingnews he will have a similar role at Paris-Nice in early March before having an expected leadership role in the cobbled Classics.
I'm riding the Volta ao Algarve (February 18-22) and then Paris Nice (March 8-15). I really hope to be on good form for Paris-Nice. Then I'll take anything that comes along in the six weeks of the Spring Classics, I'm not fussy,” he said.
“Richie will be the leader at Paris-Nice and I'll be there as back-up. I'll perhaps ride for myself until the first hard stage and then if he needs me, then I'll ride for him. If not, I'll do my own thing, a bit like at the Tour Down Under last year. He was third, while I got eighth. A similar result would be great before the Classics.”
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