Geraint Thomas has shared his thoughts ahead of the 2021 Tour de France, welcoming the increase in time trial kilometres and highlighting Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič as the two outstanding favourites.
"It’s nice to have more TTs in the Tour, and normal TTs as well, not mountain TTs that are drags all the way up. It’s nice to mix it up a bit because you need to be able to do everything well to win the Tour, it's not just about climbing," Geraint Thomas said in an interview released by Velon. "The first Tour I did there were two 50km TTs so we’re still quite a way off that, but it's more than in recent years."
The 2021 French Grand Tour features a 27km-long time trial on stage five followed by a final GC decider on stage 20, this one slightly longer at 31km.
"The TTs are definitely going to be crucial because over 58km you could lose a good minute or so and in the mountains there aren’t massive difference these days, everyone seems to be a bit closer, big groups coming in over the last few kilometres. It might be completely different this year," Thomas continued.
"TTs aren't an easy place to get an advantage but if you’re a better TTer than a smaller climber then it’s a good place to gain some time."
Thomas highlights, as most people have done, the two Slovenians Pogačar and Roglič, last year's first and second place, as the two favourites for the yellow jersey, before also giving a mention to EF Education - Nippo's Rigoberto Uran and Movistar's Miguel Ángel López.
"Obviously there are the two standout Slovenian riders who owned 2020 and have done well this year, they’re the two favourites, then there’s us I would say, we’ve got a pretty strong team," Thomas said.
"Then there are a load of guys that are competitive, these days there are so many good teams and good riders that you’re bound to miss someone. Rigo was good in Switzerland, Lutsenko, López, Movistar have a good few options with Mas as well.
"[As for a] dark horse...it’s hard to say, I think all the decent GC guys wouldn’t be a dark horse in my eyes. Maybe people wouldn’t expect López to be up there, he was up there until the final TT last year. The two TTs are his Achilles heel so we’ll see how he goes in them."
The 2018 Tour winner has reconned most of the key stages, especially the numerous mountain days with downhill runs into the finish that could prove trepidatious.
"We’ve reconned most of those key stages really, apart from Portet. We reconned Luz Ardiden, seen the final time trial in Bordeaux, done Ventoux. There’s a stage in Andorra that finishes downhill, we reconned that, and we also reconned the final two climbing days of that first week and on the way to the Tour we’ll recon that first time trial as well," Thomas explained.
"We know all the tough stages but now hopefully the legs are good enough to get us up their quickest.
"The top of those climbs are like a finish line anyway, if you go over the top with 20 or 30 seconds no one’s going to bring you back. There are only three summit finishes but those other days are going to be massive, big, big days. I’m looking at six minimum big hard mountain days, but there are others that aren’t the big days that will be tough."
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