A slimline Geraint Thomas has insisted that he has nothing to prove to Sir Dave Brailsford as he attempts to end his season with the perfect tonic. The 34-year-old Welshman believes he has rediscovered his best form after being dropped for the Tour de France – and says that will shine through at the world championship time trial in Monza on Friday and by justifying favouritism at the Giro d’Italia when it starts in Sicily in eight days’ time.
The 34-year-old also admitted that missing out on the Tour may have been a blessing in disguise as it gave him “a new lease of life” to get back in shape after a poor performance at the Critérium du Dauphiné in August.
“To be honest I was over being dropped pretty quickly,” said Thomas. “The initial disappointment was more that it was just the first real time I’d not hit my target for the year. I knew I wasn’t in the shape to challenge for the win at the Tour, that was the disappointing thing. But it meant I could have an easy week, go back to Cardiff and see my son, and switch off for a few days and then get back into it and build up to the Giro.”
“It also gave me a new impetus,” he added. “It’s nothing about proving anything to anyone. It was a decision that Dave and myself made together after the Dauphine. It actually gave me a new lease of life.”
The difference between the Dauphiné, when Thomas was repeatedly left detached from the general classification group in the mountains, was – he says – down to cutting down the calories. “After the Dauphiné I went on a strict regime,” he said. “I worked with the nutrition team, who were telling me how much pasta, protein and veg to have. I was also doing long easy rides – six, seven hours. That helped just shift a bit of the weight and that’s made the biggest difference.
“The power was decent in the Dauphiné, I was just running a little heavy,” he added. “When you’re not really going great as well, mentally you’re not quite there. Come Tirreno, I went in there as leader and was feeling better and suddenly rather than a downward spiral, you’re just riding that crest of a wave. As days go by you get more confident, that’s the biggest thing.”
A second-placed finish in Tirreno, where he was also fourth in the final TT stage, has only added to his confidence as he prepares to tackle the time trial at the world championships for the first time. “I’ve never done it before – I’m always on my knees by the end of the season after a typical year,” said Thomas. “Obviously this is anything but. However, I’m feeling pretty good.”
And while the Italian Filippo Gianni and the Australian Rohan Dennis are the favourites on the flat 31.7km course, Thomas hopes to be in the next batch of riders, along with Wout van Aert and Tom Dumoulin, in the mix. “Ganna and Dennis, for sure, are favourites,” said Thomas. “If it had a few more lumps it would be nicer, but at the end of the day, a course is a course, and I’m just going to go out there and put out some watts.”
However, the Welshman’s main goal is next week’s Giro, where he is a warm favourite ahead of another Briton, Simon Yates. And despite the new wave of young riders in the peloton, such as this year’s Tour winner Tadej Pogacar and Thomas’s Ineos team-mate Egan Bernal, he intends to hang around for a while yet.
“I’m still confident I can perform at this level – and there’s a few others around, with Richie Porte coming third in the Tour too,” he added. “We’re going to make it hard for them, that’s for sure. Also my son is one the Friday before the Giro starts, then my wife is 30 the final Friday, so I am missing two quite big milestones there. I’m not missing those for no reason.”