Four months after his 2020 season came to a premature end as the result of an unfortunate crash at the Giro d’Italia, Geraint Thomas said he was relishing his return to competitive action as he prepared to line up at the Étoile de Bessèges in southern France this week.
“I’m looking forward to racing with the boys again. It’s kind of strange, actually, because it’s the first time for a while,” Thomas told Cyclingnews prior to the opening stage in Bellegarde, just outside Nîmes.
“I’m not thinking about the GC or any other objectives here this week. It’s just about getting some good, hard racing in, some intensity, some speed in the legs. Obviously, I’ll give it everything in the TT on the last day, but until that point it’s just a case of doing everything that I can for the boys.”
Thomas said that he has recovered fully from the broken pelvis that put him out of the Giro, the injury sustained when he hit a bottle that had bounced off another rider’s bike. “Yeah, it’s all good after the injury. Obviously, I had a little crash in December as well and popped my shoulder out, which wasn’t ideal, but that’s all fine now,” he confirmed. “I’ve been slowing getting the miles back in, but I’m lacking intensity, that’s for sure.
“Although there are a lot of races that are a lot more mountainous than this one, it’s going to be very aggressive and hard racing. On paper, it looks like this race will be a few bunch sprints, but anything can happen in French racing. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Following Bessèges and assuming that there are no coronavirus-related restrictions, Thomas’s programme is set to take him to the Tour of Haut Var towards the end of February and then Tirreno-Adriatico.
“But let’s just hope all those races go ahead,” he said. “It’s great that we can actually race here. A lot of other races have been cancelled or postponed, so it’s good to be in a position where we’ve got a number on our backs and we can just focus on racing our bikes.”
The Welshman’s primary goal will once again be the Tour de France. Race winner in 2018, runner-up in 2019, but absent last year when concerns about his form led to his Ineos Grenadiers team not selecting him, Thomas is focusing on regaining his position as his team’s leader for the sport’s biggest event, where the route looks quite similar to the edition he won three years ago.
“I know most of the hilltop finishes in the race this year, and they’re all tough, as always,” he said. “Having an extra time trial in there certainly makes it nicer, the fact that there’s two time trials should suit me in theory, and I’ll certainly be looking forward to them.”
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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