Geraint Thomas put in the request to Team Sky that he ride the Tour de Suisse over the traditional Tour de France warm up race, the Criterium du Dauphine, for variety and an opportunity to pursue personal ambitions. With fifth place on the queen stage of the race to the Rettenbach Glacier, Thomas finds himself in an enviable position to challenge for overall victory.
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) went on a stage wining attack with two kilometres to go, setting a pace that Thomas was unable to match. With the help of his teammate Sergio Henao for most of the climb, Thomas limited his losses to finish 47 seconds down in fifth place.
"I just tried to ride my own pace but maybe I should have tried to go with Pinot. I just lacked a bit of confidence really as I didn’t want to blow up," Thomas explained.
The Welshman had made the final selection of the day on the hors catègorie climb but did not know what to expect as he explained.
"It was encouraging," he added. "It was certainly going into the unknown. I'd never raced up a climb like that before. I'd always done a job and sat up," he said of the confidence boosting ride.
There are few riders who are able to transition from a successful spring classics campaign into a strong summer stage racing one. Thomas has shown he can do just that. Beginning the season focused on GC, he notched a win at the Volta ao Algave and placed fifth at Paris-Nice, before changing gears to the classics where he won E3 Harelbeke and finished third in Gent-Wevelgem.
The 29-year-old transitioned back into stage racing at last months' Tour de Romandie, following a brief break after Paris-Roubaix, where he pulled on the first leader's jersey of the race as Sky won the opening team time trial.
Firmly focused on the GC, Thomas believes the final day time trial 38.4km test against the clock will be the deciding factor in the race.
"If it all stays the same going into Sunday then it will be super close and all to race for," he said.
At the Tour of Romandie in early May, he finished 84th in the time trial, showing that he was still trying to find his legs after the classics. He will need a strong ride to not only beat Pinot but also Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) – one of the best time trialists in the race who is 1:32 minutes down on the Frenchman.
"He’s a handy time trialer so it will certainly be an exciting finale. But there are still a few big road stages to come so it could all change. But we’ll just keep going day by day I guess," Thomas concluded.