Team Sky will not call Geraint Thomas a co-leader or plan B, but says that if he is as fit as he was before the start of the Giro d’Italia, then “he’ll be a force to be reckoned with” in the Tour de France this July
Thomas pulled out of the Giro ahead of stage 13 due to a crash on stage nine to Blockhaus and subsequent knee pain. The team wants him to recover and return at Chris Froome‘s side in the Tour.
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“Obviously given Chris’s performances in the past, I think he’ll be going to look for another victory,” Brailsford told Cycling Weekly.
“Having said that, given the strength of the team at the moment, and if we can get Geraint as fit as he was coming into the Giro, as fit as he was in April, then he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. No doubt about that.”
Sky began the Tour de France with back up leaders in the past with Froome, Richie Porte and Thomas last year. Brailsford would not say if Thomas would have that plan B or co-captain label when the race pushes off from Düsseldorf this July 1.
“I’m not going to get drawn in on that!” he said with a laugh. “As always, we are going to take stock [after the Giro] and build up from there.”
Thomas dislocated his shoulder two weeks ago on stage nine, ahead of the Blockhaus summit finish. He continued, placed second in the time trial, but pulled out with knee pain.
He flew back to the team’s base in Manchester for examinations at the team headquarters and celebrated his 31st birthday on Thursday.
“He’s good. He went back to the UK, had a full diagnosis, got back on track and will start training properly now,” continued Brailsford
“Next? I don’t think [he’ll ride in] in the Dauphiné. We are going to see how he progresses. Maybe we’ll see him in the Route du Sud.”
The Welshman began the Giro d’Italia as co-leader with Basque cyclist Mikel Landa. Landa also crashed, lost nearly 30 minutes, but continued, joined several escapes to take the mountains jersey and won stage 19 at Piancavallo.
“I like the idea of trying to win a classification. When everyone is standing on the podium in Milan, it’s good to be there on top with one of the classifications. Of course, it’s nice to win a stage, too,” continued Brailsford.
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“Before the Giro started, we had riders with the capabilities of fighting for the GC. There’s no doubt about that. The goal is to win the pink jersey next year? Yes, absolutely. We don’t make any secrets that we like to race GC and we’re a GC team. We are getting there [in the Giro], there was a big opportunity to do so before that crash.”
Landa could race with Froome and Thomas in the Tour de France as well or he could race the Vuelta a España in August. He said that if he races the Vuelta, he would like to be a plan B alongside Froome.
“Mikel’s been going well here and hasn’t had to race a full race here as such. Will he be in the Tour? Like always, we have to let this race finish and decide. Sergio Henao’s been performing well, Wout Poels’s coming back from a knee injury.”