Geraint Thomas was in a bullish mood on the Tour's second rest day as he sat in the third podium spot in the general classification hinting he may try a banzai attack to try and claim a second Tour title.
The 36-year-old said: “It depends on the risk, if it’s some crazy long-range thing, but to be honest, I’d be proud to make the podium again especially after the last couple of years to prove people wrong. The main thing is having no regrets and knowing that I along with the team tried everything we could."
Thomas is 1-17 away from the yellow jersey of Tadej Pogačar.
The Ineos Grenadiers leader added: “We’re just trying to look forward and stay positive. We’re still in a good place for myself and Yatesy [Adam Yates] and Tom [Pidcock] is still up there too , it could be a lot worse, the main thing is having no regrets."
A three week grand tour is a long block of racing to get through and Thomas knows all too well that anything can happen. After the gilet incident in the first week, it’s crucial to avoid any further mistakes.
The Welshman explained that the risks of losing time are present for everyone including Pogačar but that so far, the race leader has shown himself to be at his best.
When asked how Pogačar compares to former multiple Tour winners like Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Froome in his prime, Thomas said: “He’s just a level above you know. I think Nibali and Contador were great climbers. Contador improved his time trialling and Froomey could do both.
"Pogačar has got everything else though. He’s got the sprints, he can ride the cobbles, he can do everything.”
However, earlier in the year Pogačar was visibly unnerved at the Tour of Flanders where he managed to come forth in a two-up sprint and Thomas believes it’s possible to put him under pressure again.
“At Flanders he was the strongest guy in the race, he was phenomenal but that was the first time I saw him rattled at that finish,” Thomas said, “I think the heat could play a big part as well, it’s certainly forecast to be coming and will definitely add something to the race."
At the 2021 edition of the race, Pogačar showed signs of weakness on Mont Ventoux when put under pressure by Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma). The Slovenian had later noted that the hot weather that day had played a big part.
Looking ahead to a big week of climbing in the Alps, Thomas explained that the altitude will play a big part in deciding how the rest of the race develops. In 2018, Thomas won on Alpe D’Huez on his way to overall victory and added that the climb would prove to be a stern test once again.
Prior to Thursday’s summit finish on Alpe d’Huez, the race will tackle the giant Col du Granon. Wednesday’s summit finish will be the highest point the Tour de France reaches this year but Thomas added that altitude wasn’t something he feared.
“Generally, I feel pretty good at altitude so that’s going to be interesting. I think the Granon day will be the first real big test, we’ll see wherever it shapes up from there,” he said.
“Alpe d’Huez is just phenomenal to race up as well. At Suisse [Tour de Suisse] I think we had the hottest week of racing I’ve ever done, so that will stand us in good stead, how we deal with that is always good. Thursday’s going to be the third day in the Alps so that will be decisive too” Thomas said.
“We already know that Vingegaard and Pogačar are riding really strongly. Either way it’s going to be an exciting week” he added.
Standing on the podium in Paris again would be a huge achievement for the Ineos Grenadiers rider but in the next two weeks, his focus is still on the top step.
Having multiple cards to play is something that Thomas sees as being a key weapon for Ineos Grenadiers. When asked whether Tom Pidcock could be used as bait to force riders to chase him in the stages to come, Thomas was coy and careful not to give too much away.
“It’s one thing having the numbers and another having the right situation to actually use them,” Thomas said “obviously you’ve got Pogačar and Jumbo up there as well who aren’t just going to let something happen. It’s about finding opportunities when they come up but they’ll be making sure that they don’t lose that second place for themselves if anything happens,” he added.
Tadej Pogačar may be in the driving seat for now, but it’s a long way to Paris and from the Ineos Grenadiers perspective, it’s all still very much to play for.
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