Geraint Thomas knew what it would take to win the Volta ao Algarve, having claimed victory 12 months ago, but heading into the 2016 race as the clear team leader led to a lot more pressure on his shoulders.
Last year, Team Sky‘s Thomas teamed up with Richie Porte as joint leaders, but with the Australian coming off a strong performance at the Tour Down Under Thomas could have slipped under the radar a little.
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But as the team’s sole leader – especially after the late withdrawal of Michal Kwiatkowski – Thomas says he felt the pressure more second time round.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming here. I’ve had the longest off-season ever – about five weeks completely off the bike – so to come here and win again is really nice,” he said after the final stage.
“This year I had more pressure, coming here as the leader of the team and as the previous winner. Last year I was with Richie Porte as a second leader, so it was a bonus to win. So to come here and have the boys riding for me is really nice.”
In an interview with BBC Wales, Thomas admitted the win was a nice confidence boost for him heading into Paris-Nice and Milan-San Remo. But although many have tipped him as a future Grand Tour champion, the Welshman is happy to play the teammate at this year’s Tour de France.
“The plan for me is to go to the Tour de France in the best shape possible to help [Chris] Froome,” he said. “If I can look after myself a little better than last year and get a result myself then that’ll be really good, but the main thing is to win with Froome.”