After winning Thursday's stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico, Geraint Thomas revealed that embattled Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford was at the race on Wednesday and personally thanked the Welsh rider for his support.
Thomas was the first to tweet his support for Brailsford after Cyclingnews revealed that several riders had held discussions over whether to approach Dave Brailsford and ask him to step down.
"There is a concern over the impact that this may have on the current season and the distraction it is all causing for Dave Brailsford and the other management," a Team Sky rider told Cyclingnews for the report published on March 6.
Thomas attacked the uphill finish to Pomerance and won alone. He revealed that Brailsford travelled to the race on Wednesday. Cyclingnews understands he stayed hidden on the team bus.
"I haven't seen him since winning, but I saw him yesterday," Thomas revealed.
"He showed up just before the TTT, and he shook my hand and said thanks for yesterday (the tweet). That was it. We didn't speak because we were focussed on the race. After the race, there was a lot of other stuff going on with wheels."
Thomas was also asked if he'd spoken to teammate Chris Froome, who did not offer his support to Brailsford via Twitter.
"I haven't spoken to Froomey actually," Thomas claimed. "But he didn't message me yesterday, but that I was about what happened [the team time trial crash], saying sorry and things. I haven't spoken with him about that [the rider support for Dave Brailsford via Twitter]."
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- Froome refuses to join Sky teammates in signing statement of support for Brailsford
Thomas insisted that the Team Sky riders were focused on their racing, rather the UK Anti-Doping investigation and the stream of revelations about Dr Freeman and Brailsford related to Bradley Wiggins and the 2011 season.
"I don't go on cycling websites much. No offence…," Thomas said.
"I stick to what I'm doing, in my own little bubble. Some stuff filters through, but with regard to the distractions, I don't get distracted at all. I was also away from a lot of it in Australia. I've just been trying to lose weight and get fit. It's a massive boost in confidence to get this win."
He said he had only partly read Team Sky's statement that was issued on Tuesday.
"The riders speak to each other, but it's more about… It's nothing to do with us. It is indirectly because we are in Team Sky, but it's more an issue for the management and the medical team. They put this document together, but we didn't see it until it came out. I haven't read it all. Six pages is quite a lot to read. I've just got confidence in the team and that's that."
Inspired by Barcelona's comeback, learning from Froome for the Giro
Thomas had promised Team Sky would race aggressively after losing 1:41 in Wednesday's team time trial due to three unusual wheel failures. He kept his word and revealed the Team Sky riders found some extra motivation after seeing the Barcelona soccer team fight back to beat Paris Saint Germain in a dramatic Champion's League match on Wednesday evening.
"It was a massive disappointment yesterday. We came here to win the GC, with myself and Landa with a two-pronged attack, so that was massively disappointing for how it ended yesterday," he explained.
"We saw the Barcelona result last night and that shows anything can happen in sport. We wanted to be aggressive and race ever day as best as we could. We didn't expect it, we worked for Kwiatkowski in the finale, but I had my chance today and I was lucky to finish it off.
"You can never say never. The thing is to try to keep race aggressively every day and try to take wins. We have Elia for the sprint tomorrow and other guys for the mountain top finish. I'm not thinking of the GC now, but if something happens, fantastic. But I'm just treating it as a good chance to race for stages."
Thomas will target the overall classification at the Giro d'Italia in May, sharing team leadership in a Grand Tour for the first time in his career with Mikel Landa.
Thomas has a decade of professional experience in his legs and has long been considered a possible Grand Tour rider. He has sacrificed his hopes in the Classics this season and has recently been training with Chris Froome in South Africa. He considers Froome a role model.
"It's more just the life off the bike really, and the dedication he has," Thomas explained.
"I've raced in all three of his wins and you learn the most there in when the pressure is on. Then training with him in the last month too, it pushes you every day, you are always testing yourself against him. There's no other better training partner.
"The Grand Tours are a big unknown for me. I'll do my best and we've got a good chance with me and Landa. The Giro is more spontaneous than the Tour, so you never know, something can happen every day. The Tour is more predictable. And I haven't raced in Italy for a while, but I'm looking forward to it."
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