Olympic and world champion on the track, top classics rider, stage race contender..... what can Geraint Thomas achieve for himself if he stops riding for others? He's approaching the prime of his career, so we asked him.
New Commonwealth Games road race champion Geraint Thomas recently signed a new contract with Team Sky, a two year deal that will take the 28-year-old Welshman into the prime of his riding career.
Thomas has had a decent season, with a strong showing in Paris-Nice and at the Tour de France, which started speculation that he was a potential general classification rider at the team. Even in the euphoria surrounding his silver medal in the Games time trial and gold in the road race, Thomas sounded a cautious note.
“I think me and the team are on a similar sort of wavelength with me targeting week-long stage races, so for next year, I dunno, maybe target three or four week-long stage races as a leader or certainly as a protected rider to try and get (GC) results in those sort of races.
A Grand Tour might be a bit…well, maybe not next year. I think the thing is to be consistent in week-long stage races and try to get an overall win in one. Paris-Nice was close this year so maybe win one of them – but I want to do the Classics as well because I really enjoy them,” mused Thomas. Thinking on a way to describe his position and status Thomas added, “I would like to be a stage race rider that does the Classics rather than the other way round.”
When his team leader Chris Froome crashed out of the Tour and Sky’s back-up plan Richie Porte fell ill, Thomas had the mantle of ‘GC rider’ rather thrust upon him, provoking chatter about how well he would do if he was a team team leader at Sky or elsewhere.
“If I had GC ambitions at a Grand Tour I’d have to step into the Giro or the Vuelta because obviously with Froomey he’s always going to be the man for the Tour, which is fine for me in the next two years. In the meantime if I got a chance to have a go at the Giro or the Vuelta it would be great, I’d love it, I’d give it a good go.”
But it’s always going to be tough, if I rode the Classics, Paris-Nice and the Tour of Switzerland or whatever and then the Tour and then go to the Vuelta and do something there it would be tough, you know? Maybe in 2016, possibly I could go to the Giro or the Vuelta and give it a good old go then.”
Although Thomas has ended up staying at Sky, he admitted that there were a “couple of other teams who wanted me to be their GC man. But I wouldn’t feel confident to go to the Tour next year and be a GC leader really, I think I need to do the Giro or Vuelta first and build my confidence, try to get a win or a couple of podiums under my belt and then think about the Tour de France, that’s the sort of progression I want.”
Although looking to expand his repertoire and change the world’s perception of him as a Classics guy who’s not bad in the Tours, Thomas is realistic enough to know that even at 28, he can’t simply decide to tilt for the Tour. “I’m not sure about something like the Tour of Pays Basque. Maybe not, because the climbs there are a bit steeper and its hillier, but Paris-Nice, the Tour of Switzerland and maybe Romandie. Even something like the Tour DownUnder, any sort of week-long World Tour week long race would be good to race the GC in.”