His 2017 season has been marked by crashes and setbacks, but Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) is back in action on home roads at the Tour of Britain this week, picking himself up and dusting himself off once again for one final crack ahead of the winter.
Thomas hardly put a foot wrong in the early part of the season, winning a stage at Tirreno-Adriatico and the overall at the Tour of the Alps, but the bad luck started when he was involved in the crash with a stopped police motorbike at the Giro d'Italia.
He was forced to quit the Italian Grand Tour and so switched his focus to the Tour de France but, after winning the opening time trial and donning the maillot jaune, his race ended with a broken collarbone on stage 9.
"I had just over two weeks off the bike, and then getting back into it, I didn't have the motivation or dedication I had going into the Giro or the Tour really," Thomas said in Mansfield on Wednesday. "But yeah, it's just nice to be racing again, especially on home roads."
While the major objectives are a thing of the past, there is some incentive for Thomas to move up through the gears this week, in the form of the World Championships, taking place in Norway from September 17-24.
Thomas confirmed he will ride the team time trial with Team Sky and the road race with Great Britain, but ruled himself out of the individual time trial.
"I said to Rod [Ellingworth], 'I haven't done the work to be good enough there,'" he said of the individual time trial.
As for the road race, "I'll be in some sort of supporting role. The main thing for me is to enjoy this, get through it and go to the TTT, and see how the condition is then.
"I think we've got some good punchy riders – [Ben] Swift, Pete [Kennaugh], [Ian] Stannard – it's a Classics course. The weather will probably play into our hands as well – we're all used to riding in the rain. It's all to play for."
Lacking high-end watts
In terms of Thomas' own form, collarbone breaks don't keep you off the bike for long so he has been able to train all August, but the rust can only truly come off in the cut and thrust of a race.
"I'm still sort of finding the legs really. But I feel all right riding 300-400 watts or whatever, but it's just when it comes to lead-outs, I'm struggling a bit to really sort of find that top end," he said.
"Yesterday I rode on the front for 120-odd kilometres just to get that extra bit of work in. Obviously with Worlds TTT next weekend, it's all good work for that."
After his victory on the opening day of the Tour de France, Thomas would ordinarily be a prime candidate for Thursday's 16km time trial at the Tour of Britain, which looks set to be decisive in terms of the overall classification. His lack of racing, however, means that the stage will be a test in the truest sense of the word.
"At the end of the day, obviously if I do good then it's good, but there's not really any pressure – just get stuck in and see where I end up," said Thomas.
"I'll be out to go as quick as I can, but it won't be good enough to win, I don't think. I've got to be realistic, but to be there or thereabouts would be nice."
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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.