Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) hopes to close out his season with strong performances at the World Championships after what has been a long but successful season. The 28-year-old could have missed out on Worlds selection after a nasty crash stopped him from training but he will line up for Team Sky in Sunday's team time trial and then race again the following weekend in the men’s elite road race for Great Britain.
“I’ve been selected so I’m going to ride and it’s still about representing your country, so I’ll give it one last bash for the boys,” Thomas told Cyclingnews as he travelled to Ponferrada, Spain.
The Commonwealth Games road race champion crashed in training several weeks ago and lined up for the two recent Canadian WorldTour races with his left-hand bandaged. The fall jeopardised his chances of riding in Spain but having survived the racing in Quebec and Montreal, Thomas believes he has the motivation to close out his season at Worlds.
“I’ll admit that going into the Canadian races I wasn’t too confident of even finishing the races because I’d had two weeks with almost no training, with around four rides before leaving. That crash knocked me back a bit but I got through the races and then last Monday I received an email saying that I was selected,” he said.
“I was going downhill on my time trial bike, hit a stone and my hands came off the bars. I took off a lot of skin from my hand and it certainly wasn’t ideal.”
Team Sky will line-up with a strong squad for Sunday's time trial, although they will not start as favourites. Having finished third last year and with Bradley Wiggins also set to ride the event, Thomas has tipped Orica GreenEdge and two-time defending champions, Omega Pharma QuickStep, as the teams to beat.
“I think we’ve got a strong team. It’s perhaps not our strongest either because Froome and Kennaugh would add to the TTT if they were riding but at the end of the season it’s hard to get the 'A Team' together but with the riders we’ve got I still think that we can give it a good go.”
“The main thing is that everyone here is motivated. It would be nice to be on the podium again but we all know that it’s going to be tough. There’s Omega of course, and I know a few of the boys in Orica and they’re obviously targeting this. They’re the favourites but anything can happen, and especially with Brad stepping into the team because you can take a lot from that.”
When it comes to the road race Great Britain lacks an out-and-out favourite but the team is full of potential. Chris Froome is set to ride and comes out of the Vuelta with a podium place behind him. National road race champion Peter Kennaugh also rides but Thomas’ countryman Ben Swift could also factor. Swift finished on the podium in Milan-San Remo earlier in the year and has been targeting the Worlds for several months.
“Around the Tour time I think we had Swift as our leader and I think that’s still the plan but I’ve not talked to the team about it recently. I know that Swift has been targeting the race for a while and having seen some of the rides he’s done this year he can certainly climb and sprint well. I think he’s got a good shout and Kennaugh and Froome will be strong too.”
Although Thomas isn’t one to easily succumb to pressure he is aware of the expectations Great Britain will face after a truly poor performance in the road race last year.
“It can’t be much worse that last year,” Thomas told Cyclingnews.
“But it’s not about having a point to prove. We just want to show what we can do and finish off the year in a better fashion. There were a few things that came into it last year, with the weather and all, but hopefully we can get stuck in and show that jersey.”