Geraint Thomas can be as good as Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar, according to sports director Servais Knaven.
Welshman Thomas is one of the pre-race favourites to win the 2021 Tour de France, which starts in Brittany on June 26, alongside the Slovenian superstars Roglič and Pogačar.
The Ineos Grenadiers leader has been back to his best in 2021, winning the Tour de Romandie overall and finishing third in the Critérium du Dauphiné last weekend.
But Thomas, winner of the 2018 Tour de France, faces a tough challenge from the two current biggest Grand Tour stars, Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), who both won three-week races last season.
Knaven, a former Paris-Roubaix winner and now Ineos Grenadiers sports director, told cycling website Wielerflits: “You should not underestimate Geraint Thomas. When he’s at his best, he’s not inferior to Pogačar and Roglič.
“Thomas is super-motivated, you could see that in the Tour de Romandie which he won in an impressive way.
“G realises very well that it could be one of his last chances to compete for the overall victory.”
Ineos Grenadiers are expected to head to the Tour with the strongest team, as Thomas will be supported by the likes of Giro d’Italia winners Tao Geoghegan Hart and Richard Carapaz, along with veteran and overall contender Richie Porte.
But Ineos will go up against a strong Jumbo-Visma squad in support of Roglič, which will include Steven Kruijswijk, Sepp Kuss and Wout van Aert, while Pogačar is likely to rely more on his own ability than team strength in the mountains.
Knaven said that Ineos need to use their team strength to overpower the dominant Slovenian pair: “Of course it is to our advantage if Pogačar is isolated. Overall, I think we do indeed have the best team with Richie Porte, Richard Carapaz and Tao Geoghegan Hart. If eight men remain in a mountain stage, there is a good chance that we will still be represented with three or four riders.”
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