Welsh cycling star tells Josh Richards he’s contemplating a bold move away from Team Sky
AS EVER-IMPROVING road racer Geraint Thomas ponders his future with Team Sky, the Welshman insists even next year’s Tour de France will come too soon to follow in the footsteps of Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.
Thomas played a key role in helping Froome win last year’s Tour and in doing so become the second successive Briton to triumph, after Wiggins ended the wait for a winner from these shores in 2012.
Such has been Team Sky’s dominance of the road cycling calendar in recent years, Froome is among the leading contenders to triumph again in July.
But Thomas, whose contract with the outfit expires in December, admits his own dreams of winning the general classification will have to remain just that for now, regardless of who he rides for.
“I think it might be too early to be challenging for a GC jersey next year,” said the 27-year-old, who has won two Olympic gold medals on the track.
“It may not happen at all, I may just play a supporting role and be able to do well in one-week races.
“I haven’t even trained specifically to win a stage. Climbing, even time trials, I’ve never done much work on, I’ve never had to since switching from the track. I know the areas that need improving.
“I’ve seen how Bradley Wiggins has developed along the same path. I’m not saying I can dominate like him or win the Tour, but I want to give myself the chance.
“I’m just listening to what everyone has to say, including Sky. It doesn’t mean I’m going to leave, but it would be wrong not to listen to what options are around, as you would in any job.
“It’s about looking at the other riders in the team, the atmosphere, the way they think and prepare.”
Thomas’s year so far has been filled with what ifs, having been collateral damage throughout the Spring Classics. As leader of the Team Sky squad in Paris-Nice he crashed out on the penultimate stage when lying second overall and was caught up too in accidents at the Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and Amstel Gold.
The Cardiff-born rider laughs off the notion he is cursed, however, and hopes for an incident-free second half of the year.
“There’s just not a lot you can do to avoid crashes,” he added.
“At Flanders this year I was having a drink, had one hand on the handlebars, then a spectator falls off the pavement into the road and the guys in front slam on the brakes. You can’t legislate for that.
“It’s frustrating, but that’s bike racing; little mistakes can have big consequences.
“I’m not at all superstitious, I don’t have any pre-race rituals, but maybe I should start.”
As a proud Welshman, Thomas is looking forward to the rare opportunity to represent his country at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer.
His previous Games ride came in Melbourne in 2006, when a then 19-year-old Thomas took home a bronze medal from the points race.
With success at three World Championships and two Olympics since, he is undoubtedly going for gold this time around, though he fears his quest could be dented by timing, with the beginning of the Games overlapping the end of the Tour de France.
“I only get to ride for Wales every four years, but it’s so close after the Tour which is not ideal,” he added.
“But I’ll give it my best shot and hope to recover well and be good enough, but I just don’t know at the moment.”
Geraint Thomas has teamed up with gourmet yoghurt brand The Collective to launch a special Creme Brulee limited edition, available nationwide with a recommended price of £2.39 for 500g. www.thecollectivedairy.com