Geraint Thomas has reflected on his early-season performance, saying he has had a lack of racing but is on track to defend his Tour de France title.
Thomas emerged as the surprise winner of the 2018 Tour, proving himself the strongest rider on multiple occasions.
The Team Sky rider returns to France this year to defend the victory, but has experienced mixed fortunes this year.
Thomas admits he has lacked racing this season, adding that he is not far from his 2018 form.
Speaking on the BBC’s BeSpoke podcast, the 32-year-old said: “I’ve had a bit of a lack of racing, but I’m improving all the time.”
He added: “I’m not far off the shape I was in last year. I know what I’ve got to do.”
Thomas opened his season in February at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana before making his debut in Strade Bianche the following month, where he finished 12th.
He started Tirreno-Adriatico but was forced to abandon on stage four due to stomach problems.
Then switching back to Spain, Thomas rode the Tour of the Basque country where a crash on stage three took him out of contention for the general classification.
Plenty more racing now awaits the Welshman ahead of the Tour, starting with Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège next week.
He will then go on to the Tour de Romandie at the end of the month, followed by Hammer Stavanger and the Tour de Suisse in June.
Then it’s all eyes on the Tour for the reigning champion.
He said: “I’d love to win it again, but I’m not going to be thinking ‘I need to win’.
“I feel there’s less pressure because I’ve done everything I ever wanted to do.
“It doesn’t mean I’m less motivated, I just don’t feel I’ve got anything to prove.”
Thomas’ team-mate Chris Froome has had a turbulent start to 2019 during only 13 race days.
After opening his season at the Tour Colombia in February, where Froome supported Iván Sosa to a second-place finish, the four-time Tour winner was forced to pull out of the UAE Tour due to fatigue after racing and training at altitude in South America.
He then raced the Volta a Catalunya, suffering a crash on stage two and losing 14 minutes.
Froome has now added an extra race to his schedule, the Tour of the Alps, then he heads to the Tour de Yorkshire and the Critérium du Dauphiné before the Tour.