Thomas weighs up options as Team Sky's Plan B for Tour de France

Welsh rider contemplates greater focus on Tour de France in 2016

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) has said that he may ease back in the Classics in order to switch to an all out focus on stage racing, and specifically the Tour de France in 2016.

Although more off-season discussions with Team Sky management are pending before a final decision, and Chris Froome remains Team Sky's undisputed leader for the Tour, Thomas says he is considering a race program which he hopes could see him start the Tour as the squad's 'Plan B'.

If this change of targets is confirmed the Classics would take a back seat.

Thomas possible Tour focus comes after he showed very strongly throughout the Tour de France in 2015, staying inside the top five for much of the first two thirds of the race despite working for Froome. Although he insisted he was not the 'Plan B', he effectively mutated into that role as he went from strength to strength in the Pyrenees.

The Welshman was fourth overall when he ran out of energy in the third week's second last mountain stage and lost 22 minutes, memorably describing his weakening condition by saying "sometimes you're the hammer and sometimes you're the nail. Today I was a cheap little Ikea nail." He finally finished 15th.

Team Principal Dave Brailsford had tipped Thomas for Grand Tour leadership in the Giro or Vuelta, but the Welshman may now focus directly on July. To that end, if confirmed, Thomas would possibly start his season later than this season, where he began racing in the Tour Down Under, went on to Dubai and was winning races as early as the Tour of the Algarve in late February.

Whilst agreeing that the Vuelta is, as other Classics riders have said, a good base for the next year's one-day season, Thomas points out that may not actually be so relevant in his own case.

"I'm not sure if I'll be doing [all] the Classics next year, maybe I'll just do Flanders," Thomas told Cyclingnews. "It's something I've got to sit down and decide with the team. Stage racing is the route I'm thinking I want to go down though.

"Obviously we've got to sit down and work it out with the team, do a proper plan but I think that's where I’m heading at the moment."

Thomas also has his eye on the Olympic Games, making the Tour the logical epicenter of his 2016 season. "I think with the Games, the Tour would work really well. Do some one-week races, then the Tour, then the Olympics and the end of season. But the Tour would be the main goal."

Should he do so, he hopes he would act as a plan B from the gun for Sky, rather than changing into that role. "Obviously Froomey is Froomey. But I'd love to be there as a protected rider behind him."

Thomas is currently on the Vuelta, racing his second Grand Tour of the season, lying 60th, nearly two hours down. He says he is "tired after a long year" and that he "had never done this race and wanted to do it, I knew I wouldn't be great here. But I probably underestimated the race and what it takes out of you."

However, he continues to battle through. Thomas does not rule out doing two Grand Tours in the same year in the future, but "I wouldn't want to do the same program that I've done all the way through the year. Maybe if you had a lighter start to the season, I think you could do it. But the racing I've been doing, I've constantly been in the mix as well as trying to get results and all that sort of pressure, and everything. So to do it again..I think the Giro - Vuelta is doable, you could peak, go down and come back up. But the Tour-Vuelta is tough. Either way, you have to have a lot slower start."

After the Vuelta Thomas is expected to go on to the World Championships road-race - subject to the final confirmation of the GB line-up - as his last race of the season.
 

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