Geraint Thomas defiant about Tour de France chances: 'I wasn't the team's leader when I won'

The Welshman has accepted that he will not be Ineos Grenadiers' leader at this July's Tour

Geraint Thomas
(Image credit: Getty)

Geraint Thomas says that it is not impossible that he can win this July's Tour de France, despite Ineos Grenadiers recently making it clear that they would not be selecting him as their leader.

The 2018 winner has only won twice since his triumph four years ago, and the British team are likely to head into the Tour with Adam Yates and Dani Martínez as joint leaders as they look to dethrone defending champion Tadej Pogačar.

Ineos' deputy team principal Rod Ellingworth said two weeks ago that Thomas will be "very happy going and doing a support role", and while the Welshman is prepared to do exactly that, he isn't discounting his own chances.

"Obviously Dani and Yatesy are the two leaders going there and I will do my bit to help them," the 35-year-old told Cycling Weekly at the Tour of the Basque Country.

"So much can happen - when I won the Tour I wasn't the team's leader, so for me it's just about the process of getting there in the best shape, and once I'm there I'll work hard, stick together as a unit and as a team, and go from there. Normally, whoever is the strongest will rise to the top anyway."

Thomas finished fourth on stage one of the Basque Country, and will race the Ardennes Classics before the Tour de Romandie and Tour de Suisse in preparation for what is likely to be his 12th Tour participation.

Asked if he has had to change his approach to ride more as a super-domestique, he responded: "For sure, definitely in some races, but I also want my own opportunities as well. 

"I am happy to ride for others when I know they have a better chance - that's obvious. But at the same time I still have that confidence, that belief, that I can still do it."

Can he still win bike races? "Yeah, for sure, and hopefully I will."

While pleased with his time trial performance on stage one of the Basque Country, he added that it was still too early in the season for him to be competing for GC honours.

"It was good for the confidence and I feel like I've still got a lot of headroom which is encouraging - it's nice to be back in the thick end of things," he said.

"But I think once we get into the stages I'm definitely going to be drifting back. It was a really slow winter, with nine weeks off the bike in total with my shoulder operation and then Covid. It wasn't an ideal winter and it's been a slower start than what I wanted.

"But that's how it is - you just have to adapt it. I definitely feel like I am on the up, and this race is a key block to work hard, get stuck in and use it to move on."

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