Update: since this article was published stage three of 2016 Paris-Nice was cancelled due to heavy snow fall and adverse temperatures.
The 29-year-old Welshman will have good memories of the short, sharp climb of Mont Brouilly as it was there that he attacked with Tom-Jelte Slagter during the 2014 edition of Paris-Nice to take the overall race lead.
Back then, the climb was situated with around 13km until the finish. Thomas and Slagter crested the climb, and then managed to keep the chase group at bay into the line in Belleville.
This year, riders will tackle Mont Brouilly twice. Up and down it, then up it again to the finish line. The two ascents of the second-category Brouilly are the final two of no less than seven categorised climbs during the 168km stage, with the added complication of more cold, wet weather.
“The last time we rode that climb was when G took the yellow jersey in this race two years ago,” said Team Sky’s sports director Nicolas Portal.
“Back then the stage finished with a descent off the back of it, but this time we do it two times and the second lap finishes at the summit.
“It’s a steep, power climb that will suit a punchy rider. More gaps will open up again and we have to make sure G is right up there at the end. The climb’s only 3km long but we will have to stay alert.”
So far, Thomas has put in a solid ride in the 2016 Paris-Nice to position himself in fifth place overall – 19 seconds adrift of overall leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge). He finished seventh in the opening prologue, 10th on stage one and 17th on stage two.
“I’m really pleased with that because we’ve been battling for every second over the last few days, and we looked after him all the way to the line,” said Portal of Thomas’s time gain.