The Welshman steps up to ride the time trial after numerous withdrawals following Saturday's road race
Richie Porte (Australia) and Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) both withdrew from the time trial after crashing and breaking bones in the men’s road race on Saturday, while Wout Poels (Netherlands) also pulled out with injuries sustained in the race.
With neither nation bringing a replacement time trial specialist to Brazil, on Monday evening officials offered the three spots to the nations with one rider in Rio. Having initially qualified 12th in the world at the world championships in Richmond, USA, last year, Great Britain took one spot.
“Technically riding it well is the main thing. Obviously the climb is important but there is a lot of flat road in between as well and it could be windy around there,” Thomas said.
“I think it’s all about pace judgement, but I don’t see why I wouldn’t have a good chance of getting a result there.”
Thomas also crashed in the men’s road race, injuring his hip in the collision with the curb on the side of the road on the final descent. However the Welshman rode with his GB teammates on Sunday and believes his injuries “shouldn’t be too bad” by Wednesday’s TT.
His time trial bike and clothing is in Rio de Janeiro already as Thomas was GB’s first reserve if first choice rider Chris Froome could not start due to illness or injury.
Froome’s trainer Tim Kerrison flew to Rio in order to preview the course and devise a pacing strategy for the technical, hilly course, with the pair aiming to replicate the success Froome enjoyed at the Tour de France.
Bad weather is forecast for Wednesday along the 54.56km coastal, windswept course, which could add another dimension to the challenge.
“It adds another element to it, especially with that short technical descent,” Thomas said. “So it’s never straight forward, it will be interesting anyway.”
Dutchman Tom Dumoulin remains favourite for gold in the event despite crashing out of the Tour de France with a broken arm. Froome, who finished second behind Dumoulin in the Tour’s first time trial and then won the second, mountain time trial on stage 18, will be his biggest competition.
Thomas believes that he falls into a group of riders who can also challenge for a medal, including Rohan Dennis (Australia), Tony Martin (Germany), Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) and world champion Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus).
“There are a lot of strong guys but I don’t think any of them are head and shoulders above everyone else,” he said. “I think Dumoulin would have been hot favourite had he not crashed and broken something. Now there are a lot of guys who can come quite close.”