Geraint Thomas has reiterated that after narrowly missing out on a Giro d’Italia win this year, he still hopes to be given the opportunity to carry on racing at the highest level in 2024 with Ineos Grenadiers.
The Welshman dramatically missed out on the Giro title after being toppled by Jumbo-Visma’s Primož Roglič on the penultimate stage.
However, after a brief period of downtime to reset, the 37-year-old says he is now ready to perform and push for the podium in the elite individual time trial at the Glasgow World Championships.
Speaking to the media, including Cycling Weekly, in Glasgow, Thomas said: "All being well I'll still be racing next year," though when asked if he had heard any updates regarding contract talks with Ineos Grenadiers the answer was "not really, no”. Thomas added: “I was hoping to but there's been nothing else at the minute."
Though Thomas was clear that he has big goals for 2024, citing a fifth Olympic outing as a target, he added of this Friday's World Championships time trial: "When you get a bit older, you do start to appreciate it a bit more, because you know, it's coming to an end soon. So you kind of just make the most of it and really try to take it all in and especially with it being in the UK it makes it even more special."
Thomas explained that in the immediate aftermath of the Giro the end result had been "hard to take" but after a period of reflection, he said he was now able to see the positives and would look to carry that into the Vuelta a España in the coming weeks.
"I had two weeks where I didn't really ride much at all [after the Giro d’Italia] and let my hair down a bit,” he said. "I just ate and drank whatever - I drank quite a bit to be fair - but it was a nice break with the family.
"Then I just tried to get back into it and spent a bit of time up in Andorra at altitude with the team, it's the best way for me to sort of focus really, so I had three weeks up there which was decent. I then went to Poland [Tour de Pologne], but I was a bit sort of nailed there."
Looking at the positives
"I guess I just kind of always looked at the positives of it [the Giro d’Italia] and the fact that at the start of the year I was just so up and down and stop start," he added. "I never really got fully going until March after the Volta a Catalunya - which was pretty close to the Giro - so I was just pretty happy to have just been in the position to win.
"Then obviously getting so close on the last day made it hard to take but at the same time I was happy with how I managed to get into that position."
At the Vuelta Thomas will have another opportunity to go up against Primož Roglič who is set to lead Jumbo-Visma alongside Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard. The Welshman explained that he was trying not to think too far ahead in terms of a result in Spain and would look to take it day by day.
"We'll see once we're in it," Thomas said. "The Vuelta's such a hard race this year. There's something most days really and a super hard back end of the race as well. It'll be tough though because they've obviously got two pretty decent guys but we'll see."
Ahead of the men’s elite individual time trial on Friday, the 37-year-old said he was determined to perform and push for a good result.
Thomas explained that competing at the Worlds provided excellent preparation for the time trials that feature in the Vuelta but that his later goal wouldn’t distract from the aim of getting onto the podium in Stirling.
"It helps for the Vuelta, but the main reason [for] coming here was to try and perform and do well in the TT. I would have loved to have done the road race as well but the way Poland fell it wasn't possible," Thomas said. "So it does help [with preparation for the Vuelta] but I think it's mainly because of the race and it being at home that I’m here rather than using it as practice and I'm coming here to try to perform."
"Guys like Josh [Tarling] or Filippo [Ganna], it probably favours them a bit more. But yeah, for me at the end of the day, it’s just A to B as quick as you can really. It’s a pure race. Just as good as you are and that’s that."
"I'm coming here to try to perform"
"I think I've never really been in decent shape at a Worlds either, maybe once in Imola and when Cav won in Copenhagen. So it's nice to just be at a Worlds in decent nick," he explained.
"I’ll do this and then go to altitude for another eight days or so and then straight into the Vuelta,” he added. “So, it's a lot of time away from home. But hopefully it will be why you just have no regrets then. You know, you've done all you can and you just do what you have to do."
Last weekend, Thomas was watching on when his Ineos teammate - and co-podcast host - Luke Rowe rode the elite men’s road race which was won by Mathieu van der Poel.
The Welshman said the timing of the Tour de Pologne meant he was unable to take part and that the explosive nature of the course meant that the race would not have been one for him.
He said: "It was different I guess for the Worlds but all the good guys were all there you know, so I think if you had the legs you'd have been there. It would have been tense getting into the circuit but they lit it up as soon as they got on. It wouldn't be my cup of tea for a race like the Worlds, I thought It looked pretty intense. Explosive.
"The usual suspects are always strong aren't they so it wasn't much of a surprise to see them all going well especially coming out of the Tour."
Thomas explained that he is even hungrier to carry on racing into 2024 with the Paris Olympics in mind.
"I've seen the road race recently actually, and I'd love to go. It'd be my fifth Olympics, which is pretty mad actually. I think it'd be a really good target to have that as a goal to try and go and do something there. It's going to be massive and so would be great to be a part of it."
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