In 2016 Geraint Thomas' focus is shifting to favour his general classification characteristics having balanced his stage racing and one-day ambitions simultaneously and successfully. A standout ride at the 2015 Tour de France resulted in the 29-year-old transitioning into Team Sky's latest GC contender with back-to-back Volta a Algarve victories early confirmation of his decision.
"It's always nice to be on the podium and get a win," Thomas said on the Team Sky website. "I don't get to do it very often so I certainly enjoy that. It's definitely a good confidence booster now going into the last big block of training. I've got a big block of racing then with three big stage races and then three big one-days as well. Hopefully I can take something out of all that."
The victory is Thomas' fourth overall victory having now won both Volta a Algarve and Bayern-Rundfahrt on two occasions.
Thomas' best result across the five stages was a narrow second place finish to Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), lifting him to second overall at one second, while third place the following day in the 18km time trial saw him keep retain his position as Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) moved into the overall lead.
The final day climb to Alto do Malhão was always going to favour Thomas over Martin as the Team Sky rider finished fifth, at 28 seconds to winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), with with the Etixx-Quick Step rider well down in 123rd place, 18:17 minutes in arrears.
"Once Tony Martin got dropped first time up the climb the stage was all about defending that lead," Thomas explained of the finale. "[Ion] Izagirre was the biggest threat after that and I just didn't get carried away when Contador and Rigo (Uran) attacked. I just followed Izagirre all the way until well into the last kilometre. I had a little dig myself but I kind of knew I had it by then."
Thomas added the experience of 2015 was beneficial in measuring his power up the climb, as was the fact the peloton made the ascent on two occasions.
"I knew the climb from last year and we do it twice in the race. So I knew the effort it involved and I just didn't want to get carried away and go into the red until necessary. It's been a big team effort and all week the boys have been great and supporting me all the way through," he said.
Paris-Nice is next on the agenda for Thomas where he will look to better his fifth place of last season when riding in support of teammate Richie Porte, who claimed overall success. Following the 'race to the sun', Thomas is expected to line up at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, "and drop in, do Flanders and then a short camp in Tenerife and then do Liege and Romandie" as he explained in January.
Thomas' racing schedule means he will miss the defence of his one-day title at E3 Harelbeke, with his focus on riding "as many stage races as I can."
"It was a hard decision to make because E3 is my biggest win and I love that race. I have done it a number of times and have always had decent results. But you have to make a call somewhere," he added of decision to focus on GC in 2016.
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