Geraint Thomas vowed he would “take his chance if it comes” at the Tour de France this year after wrapping up an unexpected victory at the Tour de Suisse on Sunday. The Welsh rider added, however, that he did not yet know exactly what his role would be.
Thomas, the 2018 Tour de France champion, took advantage of a heavily depleted field in Switzerland – a number of teams and race favourites abandoned due to Covid – to become the first British rider to triumph in the race.
The 36-year-old finished just three seconds behind Remco Evenepoel (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) in Sunday’s final day time trial in Vaduz. But he was more than a minute quicker than Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe), which was enough to leapfrog the Colombian in the overall standings.
Having started the week working for Adam Yates and Tom Pidcock – both of whom abandoned after testing positive for Covid – Thomas admitted the win was “unexpected” but gave him confidence ahead of the biggest race of the year, particularly after crashes at last year’s Tour and Tokyo Olympics last year left him wondering “what he did wrong in a previous life”.
“From the Tour last year to the end of the season was really hard, probably one of the hardest periods of my career,” Thomas said after his victory. “This year I started slightly on the back foot but I’ve really enjoyed the racing and being with the younger guys in the team and building up. It’s super nice to be racing at the pointy end again.
“To get this win.. I didn’t really expect it to be honest with two other leaders in the team, doing lead-outs earlier in the week.”
Asked about his ambitions for the Tour, which begins in Copenhagen on July 1, Thomas replied: “I’m easy. I just want to go and race hard and do what I can. We’ve got two other leaders in the team (likely to be Daniel Martínez and Yates) and whether I can stay up on GC (general classification) for a while to play another card, or go for stages, or help other guys….whatever. I’m just happy to do whatever. Take my chance for sure if it comes, help the boys if I have to.”
Thomas and the rest of the peloton will have their work cut out stopping Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) from winning a third consecutive title. The Slovenian took victory on the final stage of his home tour of Slovenia on Sunday, wrapping up the overall victory, and afterwards said he “felt great”.
“It was an amazing week, amazing race and yeah, brilliant teamwork, brilliant stages and atmosphere,” Pogacar said. “The shape looks good. The team looks good.”