Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) might be going home with little to show for his huge efforts at Milan-San Remo but the Welshman hopes that his performance at the first monument of the season is a good sign for the cobbled classics to come. Despite claiming to have been feeling fairly average throughout the 294-kilometre race, Thomas was able to follow Daniel Oss (BMC) inside the final 20 kilometres.
“I was supposed to wait until the Poggio but when I saw Oss go you could see how strong BMC were and it was kind of just instinct to follow. I could have waited but it was just in the heat of the moment you just race,” Thomas said just after the finish line, his face caked in the mud that had come off the rain-soaked tarmac. “I just knew that they (BMC) were strong so if we had a guy up there then we didn’t have to ride behind and that is always better.”
Thomas and Oss went away after the Cipressa, with 16 kilometres remaining, building up a gap of just over 30 seconds. The pairing continued to work together for around nine kilometres before Oss cracked and Thomas pushed on alone on the Poggio. The gap drifted out again as the group of favourites began to play a game of cat and mouse behind him. Perhaps he had managed to make the right move after all, but any notion of a victory was soon wiped away when he was caught by Greg Van Avermaet just after the top of the Poggio.
“It was hard. I went and I tried to give it everything but I knew the boys behind. I knew when the likes of Van Avermaet and Sagan attacks in the last k that they’re going to be doing over 700 watts and they’re going to close the gap pretty quick. You have to try,” he explained. “I wasn’t thinking about that (the win) I was just thinking about getting to the top and then if you’ve got a gap then you start thinking about the descent and then you start thinking about the finish.”
Up until the point of attack, Thomas had been doing plenty of work on the front for his teammate, and podium finisher at last year’s race, Ben Swift. As the peloton scythed their way through the Capi, Sky put numbers on the front. Andy Fenn did a huge turn, pulling on the front for close to 20 kilometres. Things looked to be going to plan until the descent of the Capo Berta when Salvatore Puccio slipped out on a corner, taking down Lampre-Merida rider Rui Costa.
Despite the incident, Thomas is pleased with how the day went and he even found time to help out Swift in the finale. “It was a good day really, we committed to the plan, unfortunate about the crash just after Capo Berta when Puccio came down but we just kept rolling. It was kind of good for me and Swift, we had a bit of an easy ride,” he said.
“I just felt really average all day and then I just went on that climb. In the finish I just tried to keep the pace high because I could see it was all strung out. I saw that Swifty was about seventh or eighth coming off that descent, I saw him give me a nod so I just rode as long and as hard as I could but I was pretty nailed by then.”
Thomas will now head to the cobbled classics where he hopes that the hard efforts he put in this Sunday will pay dividends further down the line and help him put past disappointments behind him. “Hopefully I can make use of it. I was really disappointed in Paris-Nice, I was proper gutted. It still hurts when people bring it up now. That crash was a really stupid crash, I’ve done that corner 100 times so that was annoying. Hopefully these next three weeks we can get something now.”