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British national champion Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
Sky rider on the Tour, Olympics and his future
The 24-year-old’s performance was one of Sky’s rare highlights in last year’s race, with Thomas finishing second on the stage to Arenberg and wearing the white jersey for several days.
This time around the team will look to support GC contender Bradley Wiggins as well has unleash the likes of Thomas and Edvald Boasson Hagen in a more aggressive manner. The team's first objective in the race will be the team time trial on stage 2.
“The team time trial is a massive goal for the team and that’s my next big goal. I think I can offer quite a bit to the team and do a good ride,” Thomas told Cyclingnews.
“I’ll then try and take my opportunities for a stage win for the rest of the race.”
“I grew up watching the Tour and seeing riders win stages and wear jerseys and to be in that position last year, to be on the other side of the lens was incredible and it’s something that you desperately thrive on. It’s a good boost, you get off the bus in a jersey and of course want to do that again.”
A stage win would eclipse any of Thomas’s achievements in professional road racing, as despite his success on the track and his win in the UK road championship last season, he is yet to win a major individual race on tarmac.
“I just need to get that win under my belt,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I’ve definitely got the legs to do it but I just need a bit of luck for it all to come together. I’ve got the confidence though and it’s not out of reach to start thinking about winning races. I just want to start winning.”
“I go to every race and take it as it comes but it doesn’t really play on my mind. I’m still quite young and just try and put myself in the right positions and it will happen.”
Thomas’s pedigree as a strong all-rounder is a throwback to days when riders raced all year and without one specific race or even day defining their season.
"I’m still young in road racing terms so I just want to do as much racing as possible and get as much experience as possible. So that means using races like Paris-Nice to get a base and then riding with guys like Bradley Wiggins and Mick Rogers and learning from them but a bit of everything isn’t going to harm me.
“I just want to keep doing the races I’m doing but I think that the Classics are really something I can look at in the future. Then obviously shorter stage races and stage wins too. I can time trial well too.”
Contract for 2012 and skipping the Tour
With his two-year deal at Sky winding down Thomas is without a contract for next season but the likelihood is that he will stay with Sky for the foreseeable future. However he’s yet to sit down with Sky’s bosses and thrash out a deal.
“I’ve got some talking to do but nothing has been signed yet,” he said.
“I’m in a good place with the team and with the Olympics coming up it’s a good situation with Dave [Brailsford] and Shane [Sutton] being part of Sky but there’s still a lot of other good quality teams around and I wouldn’t rule anyone out straight away.”
And a large proportion of Thomas’s season will depend on his race programme. With the Olympics set to dominate the thinking of both rider and team, there is a strong likelihood that he will skip the 2012 Tour de France and ride the Giro d’Italia instead.
“It’s not a conversation I’ve had yet but I probably think that the Giro will be more likely. I guess that would be my preferred option.”
“I always thought that it could be a possibility and that’s what we did last time around and it worked well. The team pursuit is just a few days after the Tour and the way the pursuit is going with it being so fast I just don’t think I’d be able to race the Tour and then go and do the team pursuit at my best.”