Geraint Thomas: “The Tour Down Under itself is a good hard race to kick-start the season”
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Geraint Thomas: “The Tour Down Under itself is a good hard race to kick-start the season”

by Ben Atkins at 6:14 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 
Welshman about to kick off 2014 with an eye on the Classics and the Tour

geraint thomasGeraint Thomas (Team Sky) is preparing to start his 2014 season at the Santos Tour Down Under, and hopes to begin in a similar way to last year. The 27-year-old Welshman took an impressive solo victory on the second stage of the 2013 edition of the Australian race, which put him in the race lead for three days and eventually earned him the mountains jersey.

In an interview on the Team Sky website, Thomas outlined his plans for the coming races.

“I love being in Oz. It’s a great place to come,” he said. “The lifestyle here is good. It’s the sort of place you get up in the morning and go for a run before you go to work. It’s an active, healthy place to be.

“Obviously the weather is great, if not a touch hot at the moment. The roads for riding and training around Adelaide are really good, especially for this time of year. And then the Tour Down Under itself is a good hard race to kick-start the season.”

Thomas has ridden each of the last three editions of the Santos Tour Down Under, but 2013 was the first time that he has featured in the race’s results himself. Despite his taste of success so early in the year last time, however, he will be putting no pressure on himself next week.

“I’d love to go and maybe get a stage win, or be up there again on GC,” he said. “For me there isn’t quite as much emphasis on it this year. Especially with Richie [Porte] going, that gives us another string to our bow. I’m just looking to race hard and take an opportunity if it comes. Last year I was thinking about it a bit more, but this time I’ve got other goals on the horizon just after.”

As well as the racing in Australia, the trip to the southern hemisphere also gives Team Sky’s Classics squad the chance to spend some time together ahead of the spring season, much as they did with their early-season training camp last year.

“You just learn more about each other, the more time you spend together, off the bike as well as on it,” Thomas explained. “It definitely brings you closer as a team and then when you’re out there racing you feel more of a unit – rather than just dropping in from wherever you’re coming from and racing together. I think that definitely helps.

“For sure we learnt a lot last year – as a team, riders and DS’s - everyone. Hopefully this time around we can get that bit of luck and put it all together.”

Despite coming out of their training camp in good condition though, Team Sky came away from the 2013 Classics empty handed once again, as crashes at decisive stages of a number of the big races affected the team’s results greatly.

geraint thomas“Everyone saw it as a failure last year,” Thomas said. “It was I suppose if you look at the results. Personally I felt like I was in great form when it came to the Classics. I had a real bad bit of luck and it didn’t happen for me. Everything we did together from December onwards was great and it worked well getting that core group together.

“It’s not like any of us here are outstanding favourites,” he added. “You need a bit of luck and a good run, then at the end you see what you’ve got. Any sort of bad luck along the way and it’s curtains really. At Flanders somebody just hit me from the side. My front wheel overlapped somebody else’s, we’re on the floor and that’s it. That’s what’s so bad and so good about the Classics. It’s that one chance you’ve got and then it’s over again for a year.

Most of Team Sky’s success has come in stage races, including its two Tour de France victories, where its horsepower and discipline was able to control the peloton. The less predictable world of one-day racing has seen less success, however, as Thomas acknowledged.

“Stage racing is much more scripted in a way,” he explained. “You know to a large extent what’s going to happen that day. You know how to ride it, and if something happens, a little crash or a puncture, you’ve always got time. In a Grand Tour you could still have two weeks left to go. That’s what makes the Classics special.”

Thomas missed out on Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France victory in 2012, having ridden the Giro d’Italia then focusing on the Olympic Games, but was a key part of Chris Froome’s win last year. Despite crashing on stage one and fracturing his pelvis, the Welshman managed to recover enough to work for his captain, and hopes to be there again this year when the race starts in Yorkshire, northern England.

“It’s the biggest race of the year,” he said. “To be in a team that’s won it now is just unbelievable. It’s something I never thought I’d be a part of to be honest. I’d love to go back, especially with it starting in the UK. Those three days are just going to be incredible.

“I did the race when it started in London in 2007. There was only one road stage that year and there were people everywhere. The crowds were so huge you couldn’t stop to go to the toilet anywhere. There are definitely going to be a lot of full bladders on those first three stages!”

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