Geraint Thomas woke up this morning along Italy’s east coast and realised that he could have been racing for the Tirreno-Adriatico win had Team Sky’s team time trial not gone pear-shaped one week ago.
The Welshman continued regardless.
Had Sky not lost 1-22 minutes with its wheel problems in stage one, he would have had enough to take home the leader’s blue jersey.
“It’s frustrating,” Thomas told Cycling Weekly in the last rays of the Italian sun before catching a lift home.
“It hit me waking up this morning, the realisation that I could’ve been up for the win today.
“Obviously, the race might have been different had I been closer, but I’m pretty confident that that I could’ve stayed where I was behind Nairo in the mountains going into today and then I would’ve been going for the win.”
Thomas blasted away solo in stage two and gained 19 seconds on the Colombian.
In stage four up Monte Terminillo, he traded punches with Quintana.
Quintana delivered the decider, but Thomas held on for second place, losing 22 seconds. Today, he gained enough to win the overall had all things been equal in the opening team time trial.
It remains unclear what happened on day one on Tuscany’s coast. Shimano has yet to clarify why Gianni Moscon’s wheel exploded and why both Mikel Landa and Diego Rosa also had problems.
“We are not going to use those wheels any more,” Thomas said when asked what he learned from that day. “I think they have taken that batch back.”
Thomas is aiming to win the Giro d’Italia against 2014 winner Quintana and a list of star competitors, many of whom raced in Tirreno-Adriatico this week.
He will start in the Volta a Catalunya with Froome and Landa later this month and then take a break to reset before the Giro. Quintana is flying home to Colombia tomorrow to rest and to begin his final Giro preparations.
“He can go uphill pretty quickly!” Thomas said looking over in the distance where team Movistar dismantled its temporary camp next to the boat docks.
“When he kicks on a climb, he goes. He’s got that punch. Come the Giro, I think we’d ride a bit differently.
“That stage on Terminillo, I think we sort of… Everyone [in Sky] had a bit of a chance because no-one was on GC, and we gave everyone a chance to race it to see how they wanted to.
“If I was the leader going into that last week, then I think we’d race it a bit differently.
Thomas should co-lead the Giro team with Landa, who placed third in the Giro before signing with Team Sky for 2016.
Watch: Geraint Thomas win Tirreno-Adriatico stage two
Last year, Landa led Sky into the Giro but had to abandon mid-race due to stomach problems.
“It’s encouraging to be close to Nairo and to be in front of the others at the moment, but it’s a long way to the Giro, and especially into that last week of the Giro,” added Thomas.
“I just need to remember that he is one of the best climbers in the world, if not the best climber, so… I think I’d be a bit more conservative, just try to time trial it up and pay to my strengths rather than jumping around for six K isn’t necessarily the best for me.”
Thomas had planned to see Blockhaus nearby, a summit finish he will face in the first week of the Giro, before leaving San Benedetto del Tronto, but Sky called off the reconnaissance trip due to bad weather.
However, he already saw the 39.2-kilometre time trial through central Italy’s Umbria region before Tirreno-Adriatico.
The big mountain stages in the north – stages to Ortisei, Piancavallo, Asiago – he will preview around the Tour of the Alps, formally the Giro del Trentino, in late April.