Geraint Thomas came to the Tour Down Under flagged as one of the top contenders for overall victory, but Team Sky’s focus turned towards helping Colombian Sergio Henao, who showed impressive form early and finished third overall behind winner, Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and Richie Porte (BMC).
Thomas, who is undergoing his transition into a grand tour rider – with his eye firmly on discovering his potential in the Tour de France – played a crucial role in helping Henao, especially on Saturday’s fifth stage to Willunga Hill where Henao placed second behind Porte.
Rupert Guinness and another European based journalist spoke to Thomas earlier during the week about his plans and hopes for this season - and beyond.
Question: How did your transitioning into a Grand Tour rider come about?
Geraint Thomas: After last year I was really shocked, really and excited and I just wanted to see how far I can take that. This year, the week long stages are the ones I really want to get stuck into and see what I can do. Then when it comes to the Tour I want to go as a solid back up for ‘Froomey,’ and if anything did happen I would want to be at my best to try to make the most of that. I think I am in the best team to learn to do that … not just to get fit and everything I need to do at that level, but also when it comes to off the bike … and just being around ‘Froomey’ so much and seeing how he dealt with all the [off saddle] stuff happening [last] year. Also just leading the team in stages races is a lot different mentally than just going to a stage race and having to set the pace with 5km to go. [It] is quite a bit different to be the one to finish it off.
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Q: Is there anything learned from past Tours when Sky had Wiggins and Froome, or when Froome crashed out in 2014 and Porte became ‘Plan B’?
GT: Just that anything can happen, especially in the Tour over three weeks. The whole plan is to get there as best as I can and some people have already asked me, what if it comes down to a ‘Brad-Froome’ sort of scenario and would I attack and all this and that … For me the goal is to be in the position where I am good enough to attack, and attack to race for the win; and when it comes down it there are so many different scenarios. The goal from here is to just be as good as I can be for July and obviously for my bit, for Froomey, but hopefully think about myself a bit more and not have that that bad day and maybe hold on to as good a GC position I can really.
Rupert Guinness is a sports journalist on The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media)
Rupert Guinness first wrote on cycling at the 1984 Victorian road titles in Australia from the finish line on a blustery and cold hilltop with a few dozen supporters. But since 1987, he has covered 26 Tours de France, as well as numerous editions of the Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a Espana, classics, world track and road titles and other races around the world, plus four Olympic Games (1992, 2000, 2008, 2012). He lived in Belgium and France from 1987 to 1995 writing for Winning Magazine and VeloNews, but now lives in Sydney as a sports writer for The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media) and contributor to Cyclingnews and select publications.
An author of 13 books, most of them on cycling, he can be seen in a Hawaiian shirt enjoying a drop of French rosé between competing in Ironman triathlons.
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