Geraint Thomas was an impressive stage winner at the Tour Down Under twelve months ago, but the Sky rider says that getting a result in the race is not as crucial this time around.
After forgoing much of the previous road season in order to prepare for the London Olympics, where he won gold on the track in the team pursuit, Thomas was keen to get back to winning ways on the road when he lined up in Adelaide last year.
With Richie Porte leading Sky'’s general classification challenge in 2014, Thomas admitted that his priority at the Tour Down Under will be to build his form ahead of his major early-season objectives at the spring classics.
"I'd love to go and maybe get a stage win, or be up there again on GC," Thomas said, according to the Team Sky website. "For me there isn't quite as much emphasis on it this year. Especially with Richie going, that gives us another string to our bow. I’m just looking to race hard and take an opportunity if it comes. Last year I was thinking about it a bit more, but this time I’ve got other goals on the horizon just after."
Thomas has been in Australia since the turn of the year, and he has trained with Sky teammates Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Bernhard Eisel and new arrival Philip Deignan in recent days.
"You've got the time difference which you can get over, you've got a good block of training and a good race," said Thomas, who stressed the importance of collective training.
"It definitely brings you closer as a team and then when you’re out there racing you feel more of a unit – rather than just dropping in from wherever you’re coming from and racing together. I think that definitely helps."
While Sky’s one-day unit went to a training camp instead Tirreno-Adriatico or Paris-Nice last season, Thomas told Cyclingnews in October that he is likely to line up in the French race this year as he builds towards the classics. In any case, he is hoping for better luck in the spring than he had last year, when he crashed at both Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders.
"Everyone saw it as a failure last year. It was I suppose if you look at the results," Thomas told teamsky.com. "Personally I felt like I was in great form when it came to the classics. I had a real bad bit of luck and it didn’t happen for me. Everything we did together from December onwards was great and it worked well getting that core group together."
With Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen and Peter Sagan lining up as the men to beat on the cobbles this spring, Thomas acknowledged that, unlike at the Tour de France, Sky’s team do not approach the classics as favourites. "It’s not like any of us here are outstanding favourites. You need a bit of luck and a good run, then at the end you see what you’ve got," he said. "Any sort of bad luck along the way and it’s curtains really."
After the classics, Thomas is also keen to turn his attentions once again to stage racing, and he hopes to be part of the team that supports Chris Froome in his defence of the Tour de France, which starts in Leeds on July 5. "I’d love to go back, especially with it starting in the UK,” Thomas said. “Those three days are just going to be incredible."