Until a brutal day in the mountains on stage 19, Geraint Thomas was on course for a top-10 finish at this year’s Tour de France, but the Welshman doesn’t think his performance was a one-off.
While, technically, Thomas was at the race in support of leader Chris Froome, the winner of E3 Harelbeke was able to perform his role as super-domestique and maintain a high placing in the general classification.
In an interview with the Guardian‘s Donald McRae, the Team Sky rider says he has proved to himself, and others, that he belongs near the top of the leaderboard.
“I thought I might be up there at the thick end for a day or so,” he said, “but to be there for so long was awesome. From day one I was never worrying about myself.
“I was always thinking about Froomey. So it definitely gave me the confidence that if I focus on it 100% as a back-up GC rider, behind Froomey, and be protected myself, I’ll have a real good goal for next year.”
Geraint Thomas shows us round his home city of Cardiff
Thomas has proved himself as one of the best Grand Tour domestiques in the peloton in recent years, helping Froome to both of his Tour victories – including riding with a broken pelvis in 2013.
In 2015 he also showed that he was among the elite competitors in the cobbled Classics – winning E3 Harelbeke and finishing third at Ghent-Wevelgem – as well as challenging for short stage races – winning the Volta ao Algarve and finishing second at the Tour de Suisse.
But Thomas is putting the one-day races on the back burner next season, preferring instead to help Team Sky fill the void in stage racing left by Richie Porte’s departure.
His pedigree in the one-week races is clear to see, but does Thomas believe he has what it takes to win over the 21 stages of the Tour de France?
“Yeah. I certainly think it’s a lot more achievable than I did three months ago,” he added. “If I keep on improving, commit to it totally, have a team around me, a podium is certainly realistic.
“And you’d aim to win it. You would be there or thereabouts – especially if the route was good for me. It’s certainly exciting.”