Defending Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) claimed 13th spot on his first day of racing of 2019 in the opening time trial of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. The Welshman said afterwards that the result was within his pre-race expectations.
Clad in his British national trial champion’s jersey, Thomas maintained a solid rhythm as he powered across the flatlands outside Orihuela that made up the first three-quarters of the course. But as Thomas explained, he fell off the pace on the final tough ascent to the finish on the outskirts of the town.
Thomas’ time nonetheless placed him just 20 seconds behind the stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data). He finished only a few hundredths of a second behind fellow Briton Harry Tanfield (Katusha-Alpecin), who made an impressive debut with a WorldTour team by taking twelfth place.
“It was ok, I just lacked that strength really at the end,” Thomas told a small group of reporters as he waited for Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to finish so riders could head down to the team buses via the climb’s only road.
“I tried to go out at a solid pace but I knew as soon as I started that last climb that I wouldn’t have the legs to keep this going all the way to the top. But it is what it is.”
Thomas said he was pleased to have started his year and is satisfied with the result, too, “particularly considering the work I’ve done, I haven’t done any top end or anything like that.”
Thomas has already said that Diego Rosa and David de la Cruz were Team Sky’s leaders for the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, and Rosa finished two spots ahead of the Welshman, also 20 seconds down.
“I think I could have ridden it a bit better, to save myself for that climb a bit more,” Thomas reflected. “But it was a good hit-out and it’ll be the same again for the next few days.”
The next couple of days racing are both very hilly affairs, although Thursday’s stage into Alicante could well end in a small bunch sprint. The race’s next crunch stage is on Saturday, which finishes on the Alto de Alcossebre summit in northern Valencia.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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