Thomas states he’s ‘more relaxed’ heading into this year’s Santos Tour Down Under
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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Thomas states he’s ‘more relaxed’ heading into this year’s Santos Tour Down Under

by VeloNation Press at 3:27 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 
2013 stage winner, race leader and podium finisher says Sky team will play a tactical game

Geraint ThomasHe led the race last year, won a stage and finished a solid third overall, but Geraint Thomas appears to play down his chances slightly for this year’s Santos Tour Down Under.

While the Welshman doesn’t expressly rule himself out of contention, he hints that 2013 Paris-Nice winner Richie Porte could be the rider to watch on the Sky team in the race.

The duo, along with Britons Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard, Australia’s Chris Sutton, Bernhard Eisel from Austria and the new Irish signing Philip Deignan, will line out in the WorldTour race, which begins on January 21st. They will also compete in the People’s Choice Classic two days earlier.

“I’d just come back from the track last year and wanted to start the year off with a bang. I’m a bit more relaxed now,” said Thomas to Wales Online.

“Obviously Richie [Porte] is here as well, we’ve got a strong team and any of us could get up there on any day. [It’s about] strength in numbers and trying to be a bit more clever with it, not race on the front all the time, use the other teams.”

Porte has already made clear that he wants to impress. He is aiming to win this year’s Giro d’Italia and as a result, he knows that he needs to hit peak form in May.

That in turn changes the rest of his schedule, requiring him to have done more training by this time of the year than might otherwise be the case.

“I want to go to Tour Down Under and perform. As an Aussie it’s the race to win,” he said last month.

“It used to be a sprinter’s race but now there are some good climbs in there like Corkscrew and Willunga. I’ve spent a bit of time in Adelaide so I know the climbs pretty well. I think if I’m in good form and we have a strong team there [that he can go for the win – ed.].”

Interestingly, he said at the time that he considered Thomas also to be a likely contender. “If not me then through Geraint Thomas we also have a really good chance. He was brilliant there last season so it should be an interesting race.”

It remains to be seen if Thomas has done less training than was expected, or if his latest statement is simply a bid to deflect some pressure.

His performance in last year’s race was a step forward for his career but his ambition of riding well in the Tour de France was hampered by the fractured pelvis he suffered at the start of the race.

He was able to push through the pain and make it to Paris, but the accident clearly held him back and made an already-difficult race all the more arduous.

“I like to think 2013 wasn’t lucky for me so hopefully that’s over for me now,” he said, keeping fingers crossed for 2014. “It feels like ages since I’ve raced properly so I’m looking forward to getting back into it.”

He’s also looking forward to seeing how Sky fares in the event, and if the team can live up to its own expectations. “We’ve got a strong team here and a team that can realistically win it,” he said.

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