Geraint Thomas came into the Tour of the Alps not knowing what to expect in terms of form.
When he last raced at the Volta a Catalunya in March, he had a bad day at the key summit finish of Lo Port and failed to feature in the GC battle. He has since spent a good part of the subsequent time at a training camp in Tenerife.
Consequently, the Welshman was happy with his performance on the opening stage into Innsbruck, where his sustained attack on the 3.7km Hungerburg climb up to the finish lined out the lead group and led to him ultimately finishing a close second behind stage winner Michele Scarponi.
“I think everyone had a similar feeling with it being cold and a bit wet at the start, but in the end we got lucky with the weather and I felt OK,’ Thomas told Cycling Weekly and Cyclingnews as he warmed down just beyond the finish.
“I had a good camp in Tenerife and wasn’t quite sure how I was going to be here because I did quite a big workload and did a couple of days of [Giro] recon before coming here when we had three or four hours in the car each day, so I was a bit heavy-legged at the start, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel.
“But once I got into the final, I was all right. You get into race mode and you switch off a bit.”
Kept close to the front by his teammates and paced onto the final climb by Frenchman Kenny Elissonde, Thomas watched a number of other riders attack before making his move with 2km remaining.
“There were a few attacks going and I thought, ‘Sod it, let’s see what happens,’” Thomas continued.
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“Obviously, it was only a short climb, not that steep either, so it was good to have a go. Once I went it would have been easy just to sit up, take it easy and play the game again, but I thought I’d press on a bit.
“[Domenico] Pozzovivo rolled with me as well, which was good. Unfortunately, Scarponi sat on us all of the way in and had us in the end. But he’s been around a while, hasn’t he?”
“It’s just a shame that I couldn’t come around Scarponi at the end. I was just stuck on his wheel really. I glanced at his face when he came past me and he looked like he was just cruising. ‘Jeez,’ I said to myself.”
Asked if Sky having just six riders compared to the eight of most other squads had made any difference, Thomas joked, “Actually, that’s why I let Scarponi win. I didn’t want to lead [with just six of us on the team].”
He added: “I don’t think many teams would have had seven or eight guys there at the end, and we had all six. As long as you’ve got a strong six it’s fine, and we’ve certainly got that.”
Reflecting on his below-par performance at the Volta, which he started as Sky’s leader for the race, Thomas said: “I only really had one bad day at the Volta.
“I just cracked a bit, mentally as a well as physically. But I learned a lot there. I’d have to say, though, that my training has been good and also that Catalunya was good apart from that one day.
“The next day when I lost time it wasn’t down to the legs but just to positioning.”