Team Sky say that there is not a competition within the team to lead them to Paris in the 2018 Tour de France.
Thomas sits second place overall at seven seconds behind yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing). Froome is 12th at 1-06 minutes after losing time to a crash on stage one and slipping behind on the Mûr de Bretagne stage.
“Come on he’s won six Grand Tours in his life,” sports director Nicolas Portal told Cycling Weekly. “And to be honest, most of the Grand Tours he did he was on the podium, most of them, so there’s no question.
“But people don’t understand that we can support G, he deserves it. He was with us for from beginning, there’s no competition. There’s no worry at all. If G needs to perform for Froome in one case, then I know he will, there’s no question. 100 per cent.”
Froome welcomes the strong Welshman at his side. He also is says he is happy with Colombian Egan Bernal, who in his first Grand Tour is riding well and sits 21st overall at 1-34 minutes.
“It’s a fantastic position for us to be in having cards to play,” Froome said.
“You have to look at other teams lie Movistar with Quintana, Valverde and Landa. They have three cards to play.
“At least with us having G right up there, and Egan also not too far off at the moment, it certainly gives us options as well.”
The Brit is trying for a fifth Tour de France title after winning the Giro d’Italia in May. Thomas is continuing to work towards becoming a Grand Tour leader, this year proving to be on target with his overall win in the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Much will be decided on the cobbles on stage nine. The stage to Roubaix covers 21.7 kilometres of the same pavé sectors used in the spring Classic, Paris-Roubaix. Thomas excels on such bad roads, having raced the Classic several times and placing seventh in 2014.
“That’s going to be a tough stage,” continued Portal. “We look at more as an opportunity than something else, we have a good team. The worst case scenario is losing time, but with the team we have we can at least keep the time or come out with some gains.
“We need to use the team, [Thomas] can’t ride on his own: they need Gianni Moscon, Luke Rowe, and [Michal] Kwiatkowski.
“There’s no point [that he stays with Froome in the Roubaix stage], but they need to race together, we have Gianni, Kwiatkowski, and Froomey and G – that’s four strong guys. So it’s better to be stronger together. But if there’s a scenario where they need to follow some moves, then why not?”
The call will be made on the road to Roubaix and when in the mountain stages by the riders themselves.
“The Roubaix stage is situation with so many risk elements,” team boss David Brailsford said. “The important thing is to make everyone understand what the intent is, and then how we achieve it is left to the guys on the road. They have to be responsive and make those decisions.”
Brailsford has already guided Bradley Wiggins to the Tour de France win in 2012 when tension grew between him and Froome during the race. Froome appeared stronger and believed he could win that Tour.
Froome returned to win his first in 2013 and went on to collect four titles so far. In 2017, the leadership question arose with Mikel Landa too. At one point, the Basque rider appeared stronger and more capable to lead the team.
This year, after helping Froome for two seasons, Landa races for rival team Movistar.
“I wouldn’t say it’s even a problem, it’s a good situation to have people at the top of the GC,” Brailsford said.
“They have known each other for a long time, they are support each other, there’s none of those niggles between them. [The leadership question] is all hypothetical until we get through Roubaix.
“It’s premature, to talk leadership. Everyone is jumping the gun. We have to see after Roubaix and what happens. It doesn’t matter what anyone says yet.”