Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) dashed to the airport after winning the Tour of the Alps, ready to head home to rest up after five intense days of racing but confident that he is on track for the Giro d’Italia.
Thomas finished just seven seconds ahead of Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) after the Frenchman won the final stage, but Thomas never seemed in trouble as the final day went over the Monte Bondone climb to Trento. He chased down Pinot’s series of attacks on the climb and could count on teammate Mikel Landa over the summit and after the long descent.
Team Sky started the Tour of the Alps with just six riders and lost Ian Boswell in an early crash on a descent, but the British team looked rock solid against FDJ, Astana, BMC and lesser teams at the Tour of the Alps.
"It’s been a great week for us. We started the race with just six riders, but all the boys rode really well. I’m happy to finish it off,"Thomas said after cracking open the spumante on the final podium, revealing his simple-but-effective strategy for the final stage.
"We lost Ian Boswell at the start, but in the end the boys were so strong that it wasn’t a problem. We let the right break go away and so it wasn’t much of a problem. Then the Gazprom guys came up and so brought it back close, then everybody started racing for the stage and so that helped things.
"On the Bondone, I was getting attacked and we were under reassure. Pinot seemed to be the strongest and so I just followed him. When he swung over, I just swung over too. He was strong but I was able to stay with him. Landa came up for final five kilometres of climb and then he took us to final climb, where I felt really good."
Thomas effuses natural calmness and leadership whenever he races and no doubt headed home happy as the final countdown to the Giro d’Italia begins. He will stay at his apartment in Monte Carlo, mixing some training with lots of recovery so he's fresh for the start of the Giro on May 5. He and the rest of the field will travel to Sardinia on Tuesday May 2, giving him just 10 days to freshen up.
"It’s a good to go home with the win, it’s a boost for moral. The way we defended the jersey like we did is encouraging but we know that a five-day competition is very different to a three-week race. The depth of my rivals in the Giro is different, too, but there’s no better last race to have before the Giro. We had five hard days of racing and lots of climbing."
Thomas is also unperturbed by questions about the series of investigations being carried out by UK Anti-Doping into Team Sky. Team manager Dave Brailsford has carefully shied away from media attention in recent months, but Thomas is able to maintain focus and maturity while carefully giving his opinion on the matter.
"To be honest, I’ve been in my own little world. It’s a bit of cliché, but I’ve been in my bubble," he said defensively before opening up.
"I’ve spent the whole of January in Australia, also been in South Africa, so I’ve been away from it there. I haven’t done too many races, and until Tirreno-Adriatico I hadn’t raced in Europe. That helped and I concentrate on myself, going about it has I always do. It’s not affected me really. You see some headlines but I’ve got some big ambitions myself, so I’m focused on that."
He insisted it would not get in the way of his Giro d’Italia.
"Not at all. Obviously it has got something to do with me because I’m in the team, but other than that, it’s other people who it involves. I try not to stress about it; what will happen will happen. I concentrate on myself.
"I’m looking forward to the Giro. I can’t wait now. I’m looking forward to racing."