Geraint Thomas’ (Team Sky) pre-race plans of enjoying a protected role during the Tour de France have been shelved for the time being with the Welsh rider set to throw his entire efforts into Chris Froome’s title defence.
Thomas has stepped up as a stage racer in 2016 and won the Volta ao Algarve and Paris-Nice earlier in the year. However he had a relatively flat Tour de Suisse by his standards and finished outside of the top-ten. Heading into the Tour, he confirmed that it had taken him some to change his focus but that helping Froome win back-to-back Tours was now his focus.
“Suisse didn’t really go to plan. It certainly wasn’t where I hoped to be. That was a big disappointment but I’ve rested up and I’m raring to go,” Thomas said at the Team Sky pre-race press conference at Omaha Beach in Northern France.
“This is all about doing my job for Froome. Hopefully when we start climbing I feel good and if I’m up there, anything extra would be a huge bonus but in the last two weeks I’ve got my head around being here for Froome. If anything else happens that’s great but I’m not really thinking about personal ambitions.”
Thomas went into the Tour de Suisse as a genuine contender for the overall win. The race was blighted by poor conditions and Thomas missed his typical edge in the mountains. His foray into stage racing is a relatively new experience and the all-rounder – who finished 15th in last year’s Tour – admitted that he may have pushed him Tour preparations too far.
“I had a good camp in Tenerife and was a bit keen maybe and trained hard. I pushed the diet as well and it’s just one of those things. This is the first year I’ve concentrated on stage races and the start went really well. I think I was just a bit too keen. You have those races from time to time but I’ve done everything possible since then to freshen up and fuel up. I’ll be good when it matters.
Still, Thomas will play a significant part in Froome’s challenge. Like Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe, he can perform well on the flat stages and will be a presence when Froome needs protection in the first week. His climbing will be needed in the second week, while Team Sky will be confident that he can find his best form in the difficult third week of the race.