Geraint Thomas (Wales) was boarding his flight from Paris to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games when it was announced that he had signed a two-year contract extension with Team Sky. The deal will carry the rider into his 30s and ties him at the team for what should be the peak years of his career.
Since moving to the team in 2010 Thomas has improved steadily as a rider: forming an integral part in the team's Classics and stage race squads. However 2015 should see the Welshman - third today in the men's time trial - have more opportunities to race for himself in week-long events. It's a step-by-step progression for Thomas, who had the chance to sign for teams as a grand tour rider in 2015.
"The team and myself are on a very similar wave length with targeting the week stage races so maybe three or four of them as either a leader or a protected rider in order to try and get some results in them," he told Cyclingnews.
"I just want to be consistently up there in those races and try and
get a win somewhere. Paris-Nice was close this year. I want to do the Classics as well because I still really enjoy them but I want to be stage race rider who does the Classics rather than the other way around."
Thomas's entire race schedule for next season is a long way from being announced and he still has a number of targets for this calendar year. Any talk of a Grand Tour challenge is likely to hold until 2016 when a crack at either the Vuelta or Giro is possible.
"With [Chris] Froome in the team he'll always be the man for the Tour and that's fine for me. If I got to have a go at the Giro or the Vuelta as a leader in a few years that would be great and I'd give it a good go. Next year if I rode the Classics and then Suisse and then the Tour, to go to the Vuelta and try and do something there, it would be tough. Maybe in 2016, the Giro or the Vuelta, just to give it a good old go."
Thomas was certainly a rider in demand this year, just as he was two years ago when his first contract with Team Sky was under review. At least one WorldTour team and one growing ProContintental team showed interest in the Welshman and while many riders may have jumped ship at the chance to lead in a Grand Tour, Thomas opted for the gradual path of progression.
"There were a couple of teams that wanted me to be their GC man but I wouldn't feel confident going to the Tour next year to be a leader. To do the other races first and build up the confidence and then try and build up, that's where I wanted to go with my progression."
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