It feels easy to forget just how good a palmarès Geraint Thomas has. That might be because he has been around for so long, since the beginning of Team Sky, or because his absolute peak, the 2018 Tour de France, was four years ago now, and a plethora of new, younger general classification riders have emerged in that time.
However, the Welshman's victory at the Tour de Suisse on Sunday was the latest big victory of his career, joining his wins at the Tour, the Critérium du Dauphiné, the Tour de Romandie, and Paris-Nice on his list of career achievements. With the caveat that only 76 riders finished the Swiss race, as the GC was hugely affected by Covid positives, the Ineos Grenadiers rider now heads to the Tour in contention for the yellow jersey.
The last time he went to the Grand Tour with such a win was 2018, when he won the Dauphiné ahead of his triumph in France.
“I don’t know about that, but it’s nice to get the win,” Thomas said, when he was asked if he was in a similar vein of form. “From the Tour last year to the end of the season was really hard, probably the hardest period of my career.
"At the start of this year, I was slightly on the back foot but I just enjoyed the racing and being with the younger guys on the team and building up. It’s super nice to be at the pointy end again.”
He will head to Copenhagen next week with his reputation burnished by the win at Suisse. Ineos Grenadiers were thought to be going to the race with joint leaders in Adam Yates and Dani Martínez, but with the former testing positive for Covid, a door might now have opened. After his triumph in Switzerland, however, he stuck to the team script, as he always seems to do.
“I’m easy. I just want to go there, race hard and do what I can,” Thomas said. “We’ve got two other leaders in the team. Whether I stay up on GC for a while to play another card or go for stages or help other guys – whatever, I’m happy to do whatever. I’ll take my chance, for sure, if it comes. And I’ll help the boys if I have to.”
Whether he will have the chance to go for a second yellow jersey remains to be seen, but it is certainly not a bad place to be at the moment. Alongside Yates and Martínez at the Tour, Ineos will have a strong squad to tackle Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič, the two outstanding favourites for the race.
“I think as a team we can [challenge], for sure,” Thomas said. “Man versus man is definitely a different story. They’re super talented and as we all know, they’ve been the MVPs of the past couple of years. But I think we’ve got a strong team. It’s just about staying healthy now, which is easier said than done these days. But we’ve got a strong team, we’re all motivated, and we’re all going to go there and give it our best.”
Victory at the Tour de Suisse was his first taste of a win since stage five of last year's Dauphiné, and confirmed that the 36-year-old still has the desire to challenge at the top of cycling.
“To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t win the stage,” said Thomas, who was just three seconds off Evenepoel. “I didn’t realise how close it was and I didn’t really get the time checks. It would have been nice to have gone for that. But I can’t be too greedy. It’s nice to win the overall.”
Last year he was involved with protracted contract negotiations with Ineos, but his decision to stay will surely now be welcomed by the team management, especially in the absence of Egan Bernal.
As the Tour de France sets out from Copenhagen next Friday, Thomas will certainly be part of the GC conversation, which was not always guaranteed. As he said, he will just be glad to be at the "pointy end" again.
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