Geraint Thomas on Tour de France defence: The competition is definitely tougher this year

Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) is confident that he'll be competitive and ready to try to defend his Tour de France title this July following some extended post-win celebrations and a winter of media appearances.

In an interview published on on Tuesday, Thomas said that he's now only about a kilogram away from his optimum racing weight of 67kg, and that his third place overall at the Tour de Romandie in early May was the confidence boost he needed to know that he was on the way back to his best, although he admitted that the competition he'll face could be tougher than ever at this year's Tour de France.

"By the start of last November, even though I still had three weeks of doing stuff, I was itching to get back on the bike," he said, referring to the multiple public appearances and media interviews he did in the aftermath of his win. "That's when I knew I'd be OK. Because I didn't want to be doing that anymore.

"I was definitely coming back slowly," Thomas admitted. "I just didn't want to rush it and then overdo it. But yeah, I would say it's all worked out well now.

"Obviously Romandie was nice to get a little result – a boost for the confidence," he said of his third place at the Swiss stage race, behind Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and UAE Team Emirates' Rui Costa. "And, yeah, I think we're all on track now."

While Romandie was his last race, following an early-season programme that included Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Itzulia Basque Country, Thomas has continued to work towards July, with his weight continuing to drop, too, after a recent training camp in Tenerife. The 33-year-old British rider told that he was "more confident than ever" of rediscovering the form that saw him beat Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and his Team Sky – now Ineos – teammate Chris Froome to win the world's biggest bike race last year.

"Although whether that will be enough, we will see," said Thomas. "Everyone's improving. The competition is definitely tougher this year. I think there are a lot of guys who could potentially podium.

"I just have to stick to the philosophy I've always had, which is just to do the best I can do," he continued. "I can't affect how Tom Dumoulin goes, or Yatesy [Mitchelton-Scott's Adam Yates], or Richie Porte [Trek-Segafredo], or Jumbo-Visma with Steven Kruijswijk or Primoz Roglic," with the latter, following his third place at the recently concluded Giro d'Italia, not yet ruled out of starting the Tour.

Thomas's path to the Tour now includes mid-June's Tour de Suisse – while Froome will ride the Criterium du Dauphine – and an intensive training schedule to ensure that he arrives in Brussels, Belgium, for the start of La Grande Boucle on July 6 in race-ready shape.

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