Geraint Thomas (Ineos) says he hopes to focus on a tilt at the rainbow bands of the World Time Trial Championship jersey in September to round off his 2019 season.
Following his second place finish at the Tour de France behind team-mate Egan Bernal, Thomas said the Worlds being in the UK is “a massive deal” and the race against the clock in Yorkshire is a “good enough” motivation to continue training after the Tour, which was the primary focus of his season.
“Obviously I’ve got a decent base behind me now with all the training for the Tour plus the actual Tour, so hopefully I won’t have to do too much volume,” Thomas said. “[Hopefully I can] just get out on the TT bike and smash out a few efforts and try and stay sober.”
As well as the TT, Thomas says he hopes to make the British squad for the road race and will ride in support of British National road race champion Ben Swift: “I guess the Worlds being in the UK is a massive deal for us Brits, so I’d love to go there and do a job for Swifty, who I’m guessing will be the main man.”
Speaking on the ‘Watts Occurring podcast he co-hosts with team-mate Luke Rowe, Thomas says he is still recovering from the last victory he was involved in, with Ineos’ party on the Champs-Élysées on Sunday night to celebrate Egan Bernal’s victory apparently leaving the young Colombian “a bit worse for wear”. The night also involved Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe’s son, Sam, handing Thomas a bidon filled with rum on the team bus, the Welshman recovering by eating an entire tube of pringles at the airport the next day.
Thomas says he completed his first three and a half hours back on the bike on Thursday, saying it felt like the end of the season already, following a half hour turbo on Wednesday saying “I needed a sweat, it’s crazy how quickly you swell up and feel terrible.
“After three months of living like a monk and then going to beers, burgers and pizzas, it doesn’t go down well.”
When asked if he’s happy with the outcome of the 2019 Tour de France, Thomas said: “I’d say I’m content. Obviously having a team-mate in front of me makes it okay but if it had been anyone else I’d have been annoyed.
“I can just be happy you know, I look at the last 13 or 14 months and it’s just been mental. The Dauphiné was a dream, even the races like Tirreno when I dropped and the Algarve when Michał Kwiatkowksi attacked me, it was good all year.
“Especially the month or two running up to the Tour and the Tour itself, it all went incredibly well.
“And then afterwards was just more crazy, so to manage to get back into decent enough shape to be on the podium in the Tour, if you’d asked me two years ago I’d be happy with second now, for sure I’d have taken it, so I’m happy.”
Despite setting his sights on the upcoming Worlds in Yorkshire, Thomas says he needs a bit of downtime before re-focusing on racing.
“I’m just enjoying a bit of down time away from everyone because the Tour is so intense, especially having won last year, the whole build up is insane.
“When you’re in it, you’ve got the media before and after every day, the fans asking for selfies, obviously you don’t mind but when there are hundreds every day you just can’t do it and you feel a bit of a d**k sometimes when you ride past people. To have that every day for three weeks, it’s a lot.”
The 2020 season is looking like it will provide even more headaches for Ineos than the current one, with the British squad now boasting three Grand Tour winners within its roster, as Movistar’s Richard Carapaz is expected to join soon fresh from his Giro d’Italia win.
This conundrum is not lost on either Thomas or Rowe, with Rowe saying discussions over the plan for the 2020 season likely to take place in the coming months, and Thomas joking team leaders for races will be decided by “picking straws on the team bus in the morning”.