"It won't be long till we see him take leadership of a team in a grand tour," says yellow jersey holder after Thomas proves his worth in the mountains again

If Chris Froome holds onto the Tour de France yellow jersey all the way to Paris, he will have Geraint Thomas to thank for yet another outstanding ride in support of his leader.

After finishing a third day in the Pyrenees, where Thomas now sits fifth overall, Froome called Thomas’s ride “fantastic” — and suggested the Welshman could yet make the podium of this year’s race.

Thomas took over from Richie Porte with five kilometres left under the driving rain to Plateau de Beille. He motored on the front and kept his leader protected while Movistar’s Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, and Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador attacked.

>>> Nairo Quintana: I’ll take yellow jersey in the mountains

The ride was reminiscent of Froome himself in 2012, when he supported Bradley Wiggins through the mountains and to overall victory in the Tour de France.

“It’s a role I’m familiar with, a role I’ve done in the past,” said Froome. “G’s been absolutely great and fantastic, in the cobbles, the cross-winds and rain in the first week. He’s finished the hardest Pyrenean stages now, and he’s been right up there in both of them.”

froome-thomas-tweet-july-16

Thomas sits 4-03 minutes back in the overall, but the feeling is that if he keeps riding like he has so far, then he could even help Sky to a one-two finish in Paris – just as Froome managed behind Wiggins in 2012.

“Of course, the team is focused on trying to keep yellow, that’s the first goal,” said Froome, “but I definitely think G is capable of [placing second]. He’s fifth at the moment, and there’s not much between fifth and second, really. Anything’s possible. If he continues on riding like he is, he should be right up there.”

Thomas has raced grand tours before as a helper, but never at this level. He attributes the step up to his decision to turn his back on the track.

The results came almost immediately. This year, he won the Volta ao Algarve, rode solo for the E3 Harelbeke title and placed second overall in the Tour de Suisse. Now he is performing in the biggest race of all.

Joaquin Rodriguez takes the stage win after a gruelling day in difficult conditions (Watson)

Joaquin Rodriguez takes the stage win after a gruelling day in difficult conditions (Watson)

Thanks to his ride up the 15.8-kilometre climb today, Froome was able to keep his rivals under control and even launch a small attack of his own. He closed 6-47 behind stage winner Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha), but alongside his overall rivals. Thomas was also there in the elite group of nine.

“I think he’s been progressing for the last three years and he’s done an exceptional job over the last week,” Sports Director Nicolas Portal said.

“He is missing the punch but he can ride for a long time at a high speed. He was born on the track, but he has the genetic capacity to maintain a high speed in the mountains.”

If Thomas can protect Froome as Froome did for Wiggins in 2012, then the next logical step appears to be Thomas leading a grand tour team himself — and Sky acknowledge that that day is not far off.

“I think [a podium place this year] is possible,” continued Portal. “It’s not the objective, but I think it’s possible.

“Winning a grand tour is something else. Being there and being able to help in the final is already a big, big thing, a real quality. After that, winning is something else. There are only really three or four riders at the moment who can do that.”

“G’s got a really bright future ahead of him in terms of grand tour riding,” Froome added.

“I don’t think it’s going to be long until we see him take leadership for himself in a grand tour. He definitely deserves it.”

The Tour faces mid-mountain stages over the next two days, but afterwards it heads into the Alps. Thomas will be able to try for a podium while helping Froome, and in the process show just how far he can go in grand tour racing.

 

  • PaulSMG

    Did you ask the same question about Armstrong when he was another “extremely good” rider with very “innovative training programs”?… yeah I thought so.

  • Roger

    OK then. What drugs did he take, and when? Would you be prepared accuse him straight to his face?

  • Roger

    Who is “Lance”? And why is he relevant?

  • James Rider

    Thomas hasn’t touched the track for 3 years, so he’s hardly a track rider anymore. 2 wins in Bayern Rundfahrt, high placings in 2 Paris Nices and was right up there in the mountains, nearly won the Tour de Suisse, won the Algarve Strong performances all year in the classics. So yeah, definitely not a “top class” rider…

  • Kevino Daviessss

    Yep, but so should you! As I stated, we should all hate the sport but we don’t!! That’s one thing in common.

  • Kevino Daviessss

    Remind me, did LA get caught doping? Not when he was riding! So time will tell….
    With regards to Yorkshire or any other county having riders at amateur level doping, I and everyone else is talking about the pro peloton!

    As I said, over 50% of pro peloton has doped over past twenty years, that’s why I enjoy the sport for what it is! Even LA in his day was aside many cheats if not all,that’s why I enjoyed him and many others since! Should I? No, I should hate it..

    With regards to Data, seriously, I’ve never seen a mobile phone or Computer about in the mark twain era! So I’d put him in the same category as you! Enjoy Sunday’s ride.

  • Jon McWood

    Yes I would be surprised (please refer to original post). If you start tainting everyone who has riding for BC at some point in pursuit of Olympic gold, does this mean Cav, Brad etc are under suspicion. In Yorkshire there are a great many talented riders moving through the ranks (just like other regions), and are in coached by BC. Are these all under suspicion? With regards ‘Data’, I believe Mark Twain once remarked that ‘there are lies, damned lies, and statistics’. Once Data is in the public domain it all depends on which ‘bits’ you choose to use, just ask a politician.
    Just go out and ride Kevin, enjoy the sport for what it is.

  • Jon McWood

    Paul, just go out a ride your bike. Enjoy the sport, and please don’t mock, its undignified.

  • Jon McWood

    Just like to add that both Thomas, and Froome rode for Barloworld many years ago, and Froome wasn’t a bad timetriallist even then.

  • Oh man, just chill out and enjoy the sport will you.

  • Kevino Daviessss

    I think you will find they are on Team Sky’s payroll and not BC! Sky don’t even sponsor the track team now so when the smoking gun happens, be quite clear BC will be watching from afar and making sure a large distance is kept.

  • Kevino Daviessss

    Only time will tell if he’s a cheat or not? History says that all good performances should be questioned given the past twenty years history, unfortunately you seem to be blinded by LA. which rider has come forward in the past twenty years and apologised or owned up to past doping? from dodgy meat to drinks, even current champion of TDF is managed by a doper who was no worse or better than LA, and has more than a taint against his name given spat with UCI for past 6 months.

    Unfortunately myself like many others accept chances are most riders are more than 50% likely to be doping given past history, but we watch this great sport for enjoyment and because we Love it!

    Until all cheats are given a lifetime ban, not a second chance, then we will get nowhere, but I for one will always question every champion given History, I for one think LA was a champion at a time when its been proved over 95% of other riders doped in the peloton.

    UCI still don’t police the peloton as you state! Why is Astana still riding? Get real,
    It’s not innuendos by many, it’s questioning performance by Data in the public Domain not by me but by fellow pro’s and specialists.

    Only time will tell. I for one hope he isn’t, but really would you be so surprised?

  • Kevino Daviessss

    Really! Let’s be honest they were nowhere 15 years ago, in some sports a little bit more than hard working is needed, luck? Amongst others, however history proves the temptation sometimes is far quicker to get end results? After all do you think Team Sky will be around in 5 years? NO, they will have moved on to another sport, it’s all about headlines and marketing Good or bad.

    Get real, anything goes wrong and BC will be blamed and Finished, Sky will walk away to another Sport, having several years of value for money.

    I hope like many Froome isn’t a doper, however the pressure from sponsors can be more of a reason why they do than they don’t? Look at Nike and Salazar now, they are all tainted!

  • John Senior

    If you’re bothering to comment at least think before you write and do some research. All the favourites are within minutes of each other – this isn’t Armstong leaving everyone for dead every day. Secondly you’re ignoring all the changes in diet and training that were ignored by cyclists in Armstrongs era – they just did loads of miles and took EPO – we’ve moved on since then. Finally – the same physiology that makes endurance riders on the track makes endurance riders on the road – particularly when they lose the extra weight you usually need to be effective riding track.
    If you’re so obsessed by accusing people of cheating then follow track and field and American Football where there are way more cheats and much poorer testing.
    Come on Froomey!

  • Ambientereal

    Cadel Evans was once a very good mountain biker and then switched to road and was an incredible rider.

  • Ben gulliford

    I don’t want to suspect every great performance just because the worst actor in dodgeball was so flagrant. My favourite all time win was pantani at his very best. Given how pantani’s story and life ended I would rather not know if he cheated it would take the awesome sight of pantani climbing with such grace and ruin what was at the time a legitimate upset given the injury he overcame to make it back to the tour..some parts of this sports history should not be wiped from memory

  • PaulSMG

    I find really the funny the “it is hard work” excuse. Some people seems to think that the rest of the teams are “lazy thugs” or something like this. Apparently an average (bad) rider like froome (till he was 25/26) working “hard” can easily win outstanding riders (since they were amateur) because they are “lazy”.

  • Jon

    As you seem a little short of facts to support your assertations above, here are some for you…

    FROOME…
    A history of bilharzia, typhoid, urticaria, blastocystosis and asthma more than accounts for a suppressed perfomance during his early career.

    THOMAS…
    …is not “a track rider” – he’s focused on the road for a few years now and is a top class road rider, not some doped up domestique, and he’s lost a load of weight and trained specifically for the Tour.

    PORTE…
    …is a very capable GC rider in his own right. There’s nothing suspect about him riding back on to Quintana who doesn’t seem to have found his best form yet.

  • NitroFan

    “Well aware” Hilarious!

  • PaulSMG

    Outstanding? Yeah but from when? How is It possible that an average rider that did not win a single stage (never) till he was 25/26 becomes superman? Training? Yeah what else?
    I like checking rider’s records to know what they did before how they became proffesionals and how they performed in the past (at the beginning of his career) and you know what I never found poorest results than Froome’s. And now he is beating (by far) riders like Nairo? No way!
    And then you have a track rider (not an specialist at mountains) achieving times and responding attacks from the top class specialists?
    Or what Porte did the first Pirineos stage? Catching Nairo (passing him and sprinting) right after working really hard for Froome all the way up?

  • Jon

    I thought you meant abandoning the track and focusing on the road, naturally. The classics were on the road, for example. Also, I wasn’t including you in my reference to skeptics – perhaps I should have used a different word. I meant the people coming out with unfounded allegations of doping because Froome, Porte and Thomas are riding well. You appear to have an open mind and be considering the evidence.

  • J1

    What do you think I meant by training for the road? I’m well aware of all the stats.

  • ian franklin

    Yesss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ian franklin

    Well said. The trouble with the internet is that it allows these nutcases to come on and post all sorts of libelous allegations and these people never post a shred of evidence. I’m also sick of the comparisons with LA. He was a one-off in that he has a mental health problem. Those of us that have worked with such disabilities spotted this many years ago and it’s one reason I have a tinge, just a tinge, of sympathy for him. He cannot see his own deficits (it’s one of the features that marks a sociopath). There is no way you can compare his behaviour with the defense mounted by the riders now being unfairly accused of being dopers. I love this sport – I hated LA’s behaviour and I pointed out to many cycling colleagues that this guy was not at all straightforward. He was lucky in that he rode through an era when the UCI didn’t have the guts to police the peloton. This is a different era. If people want to make allegations make sure that they are supported by evidence (not innuendos) that would stand up in a court of law. Then you’d get the support of all those that truly understand and love this sport.

  • briantrousers

    Funny how people have been saying how amazing it is that Froome’s “domestiques” are placing so high therefore they must be on the juice. His domestiques in the latter k’s of the stages are Porte and Thomas who are legends in their own right.

    No-one’s having a go at how well Quintana’s principal domestique is getting on.

  • ian franklin

    Thank goodness some of the intelligent people are beginning to reply to the low-brained troublemakers. A good post.

  • Jon

    He’s also lost 4-5kg in weight since the classics – it’s not a massive surprise that he’s climbing well. The skeptics don’t seem to have the time or intelligence to acquaint themselves with the facts before posting all sorts of allegations.

  • J1

    It’s not Froome I’m suspicious of, it’s G. I’m a big fan of him, but he’s looking unbelievably strong, in every situation. I hope it’s just the fact that he has refocused his training for the road. He seems the honest type anyway.

  • John Westwell

    But US Postal Service didn’t have any input into the team, it was merely a sponsor, as was Discovery Channel which followed. British Cycling is responsible for the performance of all the riders it under its wing, and that includes most (if not all) of the British riders on Team Sky. British Cycling has also directly developed the management structure at Team Sky – Brailsford, Ellingworth and Kerrison were all employed by British Cycling. I’m a member of British Cycling and I don’t pay £65 a year for doping practices to be developed and implemented for elite level cyclists. And I know the board doesn’t condone such practices either.

  • James Rider

    I don’t understand why those who constantly accuse people of doping even bother following cycling at all. Surely people don’t enjoy it if they can’t see a good performance without being suspicious.

  • Jsmith

    Thomas the tank engine. What an incredible rider. It’s been great to watch his progression through the ranks over the years. Also a very decent down to earth lad.

  • Jsmith

    No it’s not magic it’s hard work and race strategy. If you got from behind your computer and applied yourself to something worthwhile you also could achieve something.

  • PaulSMG

    As it was the US postal (as far as I know mail service is paid by the US government).

  • Jon McWood

    This is completely different. Lance is one man, one ego, Geraint, et al represent BC; an organisation, and one that is paid for by the members to govern the sport in the UK.

  • Ambientereal

    Well, if you believe that every outstanding performance is a cheat, why you still follow pro cycling? Better follow amateur cycling, there is also dope there, but at least the prescriptions are signed by poor physicians.

  • blemcooper

    I don’t have any particular desire to believe Sky is dirty or clean (I hope they are clean of course), but the “too much to lose to be cheaters” reasoning isn’t a convincing argument in favor of being clean, especially in light of Lance Armstrong’s situation. He also had too much to lose to be a cheating b*stard (humanitarian reputation, role model, tens of millions of dollars, wife & teammates who would have the goods on him), yet he cheated, retired, came back and continued cheating.

  • PaulSMG

    Sure! Ha ha ha

  • Jon McWood

    I am usually quite cynical, can’t stand everything that the corporation ‘Sky’ stand for, but throwing innuendo about especially about a gold winning track medalist is just poor. People forget that the Sky team is directly linked to, or was the Governing body of the sport in the UK. There would be, and is too much to lose for BC.

  • Ollie

    Perhaps that what you get with self discipline and perseverance.

  • PaulSMG

    Too many extraordinary performances of Sky riders? It is magic!

  • Kevino Daviessss

    Funny how lance always use to praise his wing men in the good old days! And kept a very tight inner circle around him!