On the second rest day at the Tour de France, Geraint Thomas was in a relaxed mood at the Ineos Grenadiers press conference.
Speaking to the media, the Welshman explained that he was relying on Saturday’s final individual time trial to take back time on those ahead of him. Thomas currently sits third in the overall standings, and admitted that taking on Tadej Pogačar was a difficult task.
Thomas said: “I think with the TT coming up, I’m fairly confident that you know, I can get some decent time on the other guys. With Tadej, it’s hard, you know, he’s incredible. Yeah sure, he cracked one day before, so if we continue to race full gas you never know what could happen.”
He added that he would be mindful to "take my f**king gilet off" in the final TT, something he forgot to do in the opening test in Copenhagen.
The 2018 champion explained that this year’s Tour has been ridden at a particularly fast tempo, meaning that racing has advanced since the days of Team Sky. Thomas noted that with his experience in the peloton, other riders have approached him asking what’s going on?
Thomas added: “Fabio Jakobsen came up to me yesterday and said, ‘hey G, with your experience can you explain something to me? It’s a sprint day yet we’ve got one guy in the breakaway with the green jersey, with another guy, what the hell is going on?’
Admitting that the race has been intense, Thomas explained that when Pogačar was in the yellow jersey, he felt the race was a lot less controlled. However, with Jonas Vingegaard now in the overall lead and Jumbo-Visma yesterday losing two riders, Thomas explained that he feels things may now be different.
"IT'S JUST BEEN CRAZY"
The Ineos Grenadiers leader said: “I think that’s just kind of how the race is, you know, it’s just been crazy. Although I think when UAE had the jersey it was a lot less controlled, I think Jumbo has been a lot more prominent.
"Especially when they had a full complement, it might be different now. UAE tended to just let the race happen, then after an hour and a half, two hours they’d just start riding.”
Looking back to the days of Team Sky, Thomas noted that the team would look to control the action from the start on a daily basis and admitted that Jumbo-Visma are operating in a similar style.
“They [Jumbo-Visma], kind of ride in a style like we used to. There is definitely a change in the way we race now though, attacks are starting from longer out. It’s exciting though and good to be a part of” Thomas added.
In past editions of the Tour de France, Thomas has been hit by bad luck being caught up in crashes that have then impacted on the rest of his race.
He said this year his approach to the race has changed. “In 2018, I was always obviously suffering and it was hard but I never felt like I had to ride full-gas for 5km, whereas I have here.
"The numbers are good here though, they’re some of the best numbers I’ve done, so I’d definitely say I’m feeling similar [to 2018]. It’s hard to compare four years ago, but I’d say I’m on a similar level.”
Looking ahead to Paris and his current third place, Thomas explained that dislodging both Vingegaard and Pogačar was a big ask. The Welshman also refused to rule out any potential collaboration with Pogačar to attack Vingegaard.
“It’s certainly going to be difficult, I’ve got two incredibly strong riders in front of me but we have to keep believing as a team, and we’re going to hopefully try and make the most of anything and race the best we can,” Thomas said.
He added: “As I’ve said, it’s not like he [Pogačar] is going to be ringing me up and we’re going to make a plan tonight. Once you’re on the road, if a situation comes where you know it works for both of us, it’s just like any other race, of course you could. It’s not like a vendetta against Jonas [Vingegaard] or Jumbo, it’s bike racing and if a situation works for both of you then yeah, definitely we’d work together.”
When asked about the threat of Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) on the top five in the standings, Thomas explained that the Colombian would be a threat in the Pyrenees but that he was trying to focus further ahead.
The Welshman concluded: “I think the Pyrenees is going to be exciting, but like I said before, I’ve still got the TT up my sleeve so to speak and that’s a bit of a bonus I think. I’ll just take my f*****g gilet off.”
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