The Welshman showed his stage race potential last season with a win at the Volta ao Algarve and a sensationally strong ride at the Tour de France, leading many people to tip him as a future Grand Tour winner.
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Last spring Thomas was tabbed as a future cobbled Classic champion after his performances at E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem – where he came third – but he says the Tour of Flanders will be his only cobbled race in 2016.
“It was not an easy decision, but as it looks now, I will ride the Tour of Catalonia rather than the E3-Wevelgem weekend,” he said at the Tour Down Under. “The Tour of Flanders is basically my only cobbled classic and then we [got to train] on Tenerife, so I will miss Roubaix.
“Liège-Bastogne-Liège, on the other hand, can fit into my agenda. It will not be as fun a race as Harelbeke or Roubaix to follow on TV, but it’s a sacrifice I have to make.”
After his E3 win, Thomas went into Flanders as one of the favourites but could not break into the top 10 and did not finish in Roubaix seven days later.
After missing out on the Tour de Suisse title to Simon Spilak (Katusha) by five seconds, Thomas went on to flirt with a top-five finish in the Tour de France until the work for Chris Froome took its toll on stage 19.
“The first part of the Tour last year has opened my eyes. There lies my future,” he added. “I was already the best in smaller stage races like the Tour of the Algarve or Bavaria.
“This year I want to shift my focus to tougher stage races like Paris-Nice or the Tour of Switzerland. And the ultimate goal is the Tour.”