Team Sky looking to be aggressive in remaining stages of the Eneco Tour and ride a good team time trial to claw back time
Thomas entered the race targeting a high general classification position but after three stages he is 32 seconds off leader Rohan Dennis (BMC).
Speaking ahead of stage three, which finished in a bunch sprint leaving the GC gaps the same, Thomas appeared relaxed.
When asked how he felt about the 32s deficit to the top spot he said: “I think I’m pretty chilled to be honest, it has been a long season.”
He said he had been “hoping for a bit better” result in the individual time trial on stage two, where he finished 36th 32s off Dennis’ time. “It’s just where I’m at I guess it has been a long year,” he said.
“I’ll just treat every day as a one-day race now and try and win some stages in the sprints with Danny [van Poppel] or [Ben] Swift and just take it as it comes,” he added.
Sky sports director Servais Knaven said he still felt Thomas could climb up the GC rankings. “I think we have to be aggressive but we must also keep in mind there is a team time trial of 20km [on Friday],” he said.
He also pointed out that the final to Thursday’s stage includes cobbles and ascents, and therefore may present opportunities to regain time.
Almost perfect van Poppel plan
Sky 26-year-old sprinter Danny van Poppel came close to beating world champion Peter Sagan in a chaotic bunch sprint at the end of stage three yesterday, but finished second.
Prior to the stage Knaven said the plan had been to win with van Poppel and that plan was nearly realised.
“I think we can be happy. Of course we want to win especially Danny wants to win, sprinters are all winners… but with this field and on this course, with the corners [at the end], being second behind Sagan is a good result. It shows you can win.”
The opportunity to win was almost lost because several of the big sprinters’ teams declined to take up the chase in earnest, despite the day’s breakaway having a lead of over a minute with 10km to go. Sky was among a handful of teams that dedicated multiple riders to the chase.
Knaven said: “If you look at it, teams are not helping each other, it’s one team riding and then the next team riding, it’s not a real collaboration, everyone wants to save the legs of the helpers. Most teams have a guy who can win.
“You can say it’s not up to us [to chase] but it’d be a pity if we don’t chase and then the breakaway stays away.”