Despite the hype from his Tour de France ride and around his growing grand tour status, he wants to ease off. That showed on Tuesday. He placed well behind when the Spanish grand tour’s fourth stage finished in the whitewashed village of Vejer de la Frontera.
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“The Tour gave me the belief that I can be up there, but saying that, I’m not going to be up there in this race,” Thomas told Cycling Weekly yesterday morning before the race left Rota, near the Gibraltar Straight.
“It’s been a long year, so I didn’t want to just come in, keep racing full gas and tail off, and then struggle to finish. I want to go to the Worlds, race there and be in the race.”
Thomas wants to lead the British team in Richmond, Virginia, along with sprinters Mark Cavendish and Ben Swift. The idea: if it ends in a classics mano-a-mano fight, Thomas will take over.
This season, he proved he has the fight to win. He rode solo away from Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) to take the E3 Harelbeke in Belgium. Despite being blown off the road, he battled back to place third in Ghent-Wevelgem. If he could take a similar punch in Richmond then Great Britain could celebrate its first Worlds title since Cavendish won in Copenhagen in 2011.
“I haven’t seen the Richmond course, but from what I’ve heard, it suits a Sagan, Stybar, a classics sort of rider, but also one with a good punch, and possibly Cav can get there as well,” Thomas said.
“We’ll certainly have a few options. In the last three worlds, I’ve been just sort of limping to the end of the season and I haven’t finished, not since Cav won. Certainly, we’ll have a lot better one this year.”
Others like Peter Sagan plan to pull out early, but Thomas plans to ride until the end help Froome with this Grand Tour. Next year or later down the line, he could have his chance for the overall. Now, he wants to see Froome in red and win the rainbow jersey in Richmond.
“If Froomey, Nico or whoever is up there on GC, I’d love to stay there for the whole thing and help them out as much as I can,” Thomas said.
“I just need to see how the race goes. It’s all about not going too deep or too early.”
Thomas reached for his water bottle and took a sip, and clipped into his pedals. The race began, one through Spain and to the USA.