With Egan Bernal sidelined due to his horrendous training ride crash, Geraint Thomas is expected to lead Ineos Grenadiers at this year's Tour de France - but the Welshman has confessed that the team don't expect him to win the race.
Thomas claimed the yellow jersey in 2018 but has failed to build on that result since, a second-place at the Tour the year after his best result in a Grand Tour, with crashes at the 2020 Giro d'Italia and last year's Tour scuppering his ambitions in those races.
The Welshman will be 36 by the time the Tour rolls out of Copenhagan on July 1, and despite the probability of leading the team's hunt for yellow, Thomas has been honest enough to admit that the British outfit are not placing great hopes upon his shoulders.
Confirming a change of strategy and pursuing multiple goals across the year including trying to win the road race at the Commonwealth Games for a second time as well as the event's time trial, Thomas told BBC Wales: "There's definitely less expectation within the team - when it comes to the Grand Tours anyway.
"But I'm still hoping to get to the Tour in the best shape possible. If I am in that shape, I don't see why I can't be competitive over the three weeks.
"But this year isn't just all about one race. It's about just enjoying racing my bike and going for the win in everything."
The Tour is expected to be a fight between the two dominant Slovenians, defending champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
Although the latter is also in his early-30s, the narrative is that the youngsters are now ruling the sport, something that Thomas accepts but also uses that as hunger a she seeks to add to his palmarés in his final years as a pro. He has two years left on his current contract.
"In cycling now everyone talks about young guys," he added. "And if you're in your 30s, let alone your mid-30s, you're past it. So it's always nice to prove people wrong.
"I'm realistic. You can't keep racing forever. I want to make the most of the next two, three, whatever it's going to be years, and commit to it properly.
"Even if I don't win anything, as long as I enjoy it and have a good time, that's the main thing - and be happy and thankful for what I've done so far as well.
"I'm not sort of going into these last couple of years and just thinking I need to do X, Y and Z.
"It's more get out there, train hard, race hard and then see what happens - and have fun doing it."
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Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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