Geraint Thomas says he expects an exciting Tour de France with a general classification that remains undecided until the final week.
The 2018 Tour winner thinks the different build-up to the 2020 edition may see riders suffer from the lack of racing beforehand and see GC contenders blowing up in the final week.
“I think recons and training camps may be jeopardised with travel restrictions, so it’s a totally different build-up to the Tour,” Thomas told Eurosport.
“It’s a totally different build-up to the Tour and I think that last week will be exciting for people to watch,” the 33-year-old continued. “I think some riders might be going super well for the first ten days or so but without that chunk of racing [beforehand] and depending on what training they’ve been doing, I think that last week could see a lot of people blowing up. It will be exciting to watch.”
The final week of the 2020 race begins with three consecutive mountain days, with stage 16 featuring the Col de Porte before stage 17 heads into the Alps proper, ascending the HC Col de la Madeleine before a summit finish to the Méribel up the Col de la Loze (2,304m) on a newly built road for cyclists.
Stage 18 then features over 4,000m of climbing and takes the race on the Cormet de Roseland, which was omitted in 2019 following landslides. The penultimate stage 20 then features a 36km individual tie trial up to the top of La Planche des Belles Filles, which at 5.9km in length and an 8.3 per cent average gradient will provide a final, possibly decisive, test to GC contenders.
Thomas says he’s been able to enjoy lockdown, spending more time with his seven-month-old son than if the season had still been going on, and that it also hasn’t disrupted his training too much. The 2018 Tour champion says he’s biding his time before attempting to regain his title, although he’ll have to wait a bit longer after the race was moved back by two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Obviously the Tour now has a date at the end of August, but it’s still about 15 weeks away so that’s a hell of a long time to wait, so I need to stay fresh mentally and then really knuckle down when it matters, not burning all of your matches now,” Thomas said.
The question of who will lead Team Ineos, who now count the last three winners of the French Grand Tour within their squad, has reared its head again this week after rumours emerged that four-time champion Chris Froome has been discussing a mid-season transfer, as he seeks to gain full leadership of a squad in his quest for a record-equalling fifth title.
Meanwhile, defending champion Egan Bernal has said he doesn’t see himself working for one of his team-mates at the Tour if he arrives in top form.
Thomas, who followed up his 2018 victory with a strong second-place finish behind Bernal in 2019, has been keeping his head down for the most part, heading back to Monaco from Wales this week as he begins ramping up his training ahead of the hopeful resumption of racing in August.
Strade Bianche will re-open the season on August 1, with the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour of Poland highlighted as possible warm-up races for the French Grand Tour before it begins in Nice on August 29.