Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas is set to lead the British team at the World Championships this month along with Mark Cavendish. It’s been a long season for the Welshman, after kicking off his year back at the Tour Down Under in January.
Thomas has used the Vuelta a Espana as his final preparation for Richmond and Cyclingnews caught up with him at the Spanish Grand Tour to hear his thoughts on the course, his rivals and the team’s chances of success.
Cyclingnews: How much do you know about the World’s road-race course?
Geraint Thomas: Only from what I’ve been told, obviously Rod [Ellingworth, GB Elite Road Coach] has seen it and we’ve had a certain amount of info sent through about it. I know it’s got a lot of tough corners and steep little climbs, it’ll definitely take its toll. It’s the World’s, anyway, so it’s going to be tough.
It’s for Classics riders, from what I’ve been told, [Zdenek] Stybar, [Greg] Van Avermaet, obviously [Peter] Sagan, but his name comes up on any World’s course, really.
CN: And yourself?
GT: Maybe, maybe. It all depends on how I’m coming up after this and how I’m feeling.
CN: You’re not going to be doing the time trial?
GT: No. [Thomas was speaking at the Vuelta before it was confirmed he was not doing the Worlds TT - Ed.] I said I didn’t want to put my hand up for that now. I’m just feeling a bit tired and I’ll be sticking to the one thing.
CN: Do you think it could be good for [Mark] Cavendish and [Ben] Swift?
GT: We’ve definitely got a lot of options, [Ian] Stannard as well. As long as we get stuck in and race hard, I think hopefully we’ll at least be able to do the jersey proud anyway.
CN: Who do you see as the other favourites?
GT: [John] Degenkolb. From looking at what he’s done here, he’s looking pretty strong and good, he’s taking it easy on the hard days, I think he’ll come up good, he’ll be one of the favourites. [After talking to CN, Degenkolb won the last stage of the Vuelta - Ed.]
CN: Is the World’s a race that’s so tense it’s never enjoyable, or are there moments when you’re in the bunch and you suddenly think - ‘I’m in the Worlds, this is great’?
GT: Yeah, yeah, you can enjoy it. It’s just strange, it’s different, racing for the National team. It’s certainly a great occasion, especially the ones I’ve done in Europe with the crowds and everything. It’s certainly a special race.
CN: What’s your fondest memory of the Worlds? Copenhagen in 2011? [where Cavendish won and Thomas was part of the GB team - Ed.]
GT: It’d have to be. Since then I don’t think I’ve finished a World’s, I’ve always been kind of limping towards the end of the year. And that’s kind of…with the program I do, starting in Oz [The Tour Down Under in January] and then doing the Classics and going on to the Tour, so - once you’ve done the Tour, you come down a bit then. I’ve never had the World’s as a target, it’s always been something to keep focussed on in a way, but it’s never been a real target. It’s always been hard to keep going all the way.
It’s a very different race. For us [in the British team] it’s great, cos I don’t know about other nations but [in the selection] we’ve all grown up together, we’re really close. It’s a really special occasion for us.
Click here for the full Great Britain line-up for the World Championships
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, 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. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.