Geraint Thomas has described the aftermath of his Tour de France victory as a "whirlwind", and among all the media appearances, the congratulation messages, and lucrative post-Tour criterium appearances, one item on the agenda is signing a contract for the 2019 season and beyond.
Thomas had intended to confirm his future plans ahead of the Tour de France, explaining in June that he had offers from other teams but felt at home at Team Sky, who were keen for him to stay.
Nothing had been signed, however, by the time he lined up for the start of the Tour in the Vendée region at the start of July. Over the past three weeks, of course, the Welshman's value has soared.
"I haven't actually signed a new contract yet, so it's quite good timing really," Thomas said on BBC's The One Show, before joking on BBC Breakfast that holding off on signing the contract had been the best thing he'd done after winning the Tour.
Thomas is expected to stay at Team Sky, his Tour de France victory giving him the leadership status he desired and had considered moving teams for. Moreover, his victory has widely been seen as a public relations boost for the British team, who faced hostility from the roadside at the Tour following Froome's protracted salbutamol case and a string of controversies including the jiffy bag scandal, alleged unethical use of TUE's, and the damning British parliamentary DCMS report.
Thomas is a vastly more popular figure in the UK than Froome, owing partly to his personality and the fact he was born, raised, and has lived most of his life there.
Paying for performance
“He’ll be here now," Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford stated in Paris, according to The Times. "It’s just the value of the contract - it won’t go down, let’s just put it that way. People don’t have a problem paying for performance and neither do we.”
Froome reportedly earns more than four million Euros per-year on his current Team Sky contract, and while Thomas would be unlikely to surpass the six-time Grand Tour champion as the team's top earner, he would command a significant salary rise.
However, Thomas said on Tuesday morning that it was "not impossible" that he moves teams at the turn of the season.
Indeed, those familiar leadership questions persist. Froome said he's "not going anywhere" after relinquishing his hopes of a fifth Tour de France title in favour of Thomas, while Team Sky also have Colombian prodigy Egan Bernal, whose meteoric rise could see him challenge for Grand Tours within the next couple of years.
"There are plenty of other strong team interested, but it's something you have to think about properly, the positives and the negatives," Thomas said, speaking on BBC Radio Five Live on Tuesday, though he did suggest that Team Sky tick the right boxes.
"One of the main reasons I won the Tour was because of the strength of the team this year. You can't just go to any team to be the leader, but then if you haven't got the support around you it's twice as hard.
"We've spoke about it a lot previously. Dave has basically said if you're good enough you'll get your chance, and that's how it worked out this time. It's quite difficult to put that into a contact, it's one of those things where you have to be in the right shape to do it, first and foremost. I'm confident that if I am good enough I'll continue to get that chance. It's certainly a nice conversation to have.
"It's a big decision, but I've just got to sit down and think about it properly. I'll do that in a couple of days once I can think straight."
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