Geraint Thomas made a successful debut on the Flemish cobbles at E3 Prijs in Harelbeke yesterday, working to put Sky team-mate Juan Antonio Flecha in the wining move.
Riding the cobbled classics has been quite a change for Thomas, who would normally be racing the track world championships at this time of year.
“I am really enjoying it,” Thomas told Cycling Weekly. “I really wanted to do well here because I am giving the track worlds a miss.”
Thomas, 23, helped tame the first attack by Belgian champion Tom Boonen (Quick Step) on the cobbled Taaienberg climb. His work was essential, setting up Flecha to follow Boonen when he attacked again on the Paterberg climb.
“To be honest, I was a bit nervous coming here because I haven’t raced in Belgium before,” continued Thomas. “I felt really good coming out of Paris-Nice, and I feel quite comfortable now in the bunch, I can move about quite nicely. The team is a good unit too, and that makes it easier.”
Thomas’ only taste of the cobbles as a professional rider came when he rode Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen in 2008 for Barloworld, but he did win the junior Paris Roubaix in 2004, beating his now team mate Ian Stannard in the famous Roubaix velodrome.”
“I did few when I was a junior, but that was quite a long time ago now. I am enjoying it now and obviously Scott [Sunderland] is very experienced and giving us good directions. Then, we have good road captains like Matt Hayman, Juan Antonio Flecha and Kurt Arvesen. They know the climbs really well.”
Flecha finished third behind Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step). It was a practice run for the big event, Tour of Flanders, next Sunday, where Thomas will have another go at many of the same climbs.
“I’ll be back in Gent-Wevelgem, and then freshen up and hit it next Sunday.”