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Opinion: Is Sky’s search for a classics rider over?

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) wins stage 2 of the Tour Down Under

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) wins stage 2 of the Tour Down Under (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

This opinion piece comes from the latest edition of Cyclingnews HD.

There has been no shortage of speculation about what Geraint Thomas might be capable of now that he has followed Bradley Wiggins in consigning the track to his past. And on the outskirts of Adelaide he gave his clearest indication yet that what he might be capable of is mixing it with the very best.

Stage 2 of the Tour Down Under was set up to be one for the classics specialists, and with the summit of the 2.5km, 9.4 per cent Corkscrew climb within the last 10km – and a fast run in to the finish from the top – it was easy to see why men such as world champion Philippe Gilbert and Milan-Sanremo winner Simon Gerrans were touted as pre-race favourites.

The search
If there is a weakness in Sky’s armoury it is that they lack a true contender for the spring. Juan Antonio Flecha has been shown the door after failing to deliver, and although Edvald Boasson Hagen appears to have many of the right attributes, he seems to have found a place at Sky as a stage hunter and domestique de luxe at the grand tours. Ian Stannard – who came second to Thomas in that 2004 junior Roubaix – has shown enough to suggest he deserves the team’s support in the mud and cobbles races across the Belgian flatlands, but come Ardennes week Sky’s arsenal looks particularly weak.

Tour de force

Given that this was a man who wore the white jersey at the Tour in both 2010 and 2011, where he lost it to Robert Gesink after waiting for a stricken Bradley Wiggins, there is even the possibility that Sky might have ‘grander’ ambitions for the Welshman. Thomas has talked of “getting his track fat off” and has obviously been inspired by the success of former GB team-mate Bradley Wiggins, but the team will have to balance his desire to lose weight with his need to retain power.

Cycling News HD
Issue 39 of our digital magazine Cycling News HD is out now, and features stunning photography and exclusive analysis from the opening days of the 2013 season in Australia and Argentina, plus a look forward to the Tour Down Under’s crucial stages to come and an exclusive interview with Lotto-Belisol’s Adam Hansen .