Geraint Thomas, who has ridden to Olympic and World Championship success with Bradley Wiggins in the GB team pursuit squad, hopes to play a leading role in helping Team Sky’s new leader become the first Briton to win the Tour de France.
Thomas, who is focusing on the road for the next two seasons before getting back on the track ahead of London 2012, was one of the first signings announced by Team Sky earlier this year.
The Welshman joined the British team from Barloworld, where he had missed much of the 2009 season after breaking his pelvis and fracturing his nose in a crash during an individual time trial in Italy’s Tirreno-Adriatico race.
The pair are good friends and regularly train together, and Thomas told the South Wales Echo: “It’s going to be great just to ride alongside Bradley, especially if he is trying to win the Tour.”
Prospects of Team Sky receiving an invitation to next year’s edition of the race were boosted by last week’s signing of Wiggins, who surprised the cycling world with his fourth-place finish in July, and Thomas added: “To go to the Tour and try and help him become the first Briton to win it would be pretty special. It would be awesome if he won it.”
Last Thursday, the same day that Team Sky unveiled its marquee signing at a press conference in London, there was disappointment for both Wiggins and Thomas when the International Olympic Committee ratified changes proposed by cycling's governing body, the UCI, to the Olympic track cycling programme which sees men’s races including the madison and individual pursuit disappear and the introduction of a five-event omnium.
Thomas slammed the changes, saying “to the riders, an omnium is a joke event, what you do at Maindy Track in Cardiff as a 12-year-old,” a reference to the outdoor circuit in the Welsh capital where he first started riding.
That’s understandable coming from a rider who had targeted success at London in the madison and the individual pursuit, in which Thomas was seeking to dethrone his friend WIggins, who had himself hoped to make it a hat-trick of gold medals after winning the event at both Athens and Beijing.
The Welshman’s recent form in the individual pursuit has been particularly impressive – at Manchester in October, he set the second fastest ever 4km individual pursuit time, only Chris Boardman having ever gone quicker, with a now-outlawed bike and riding position – but he will at least be looking to play a part in defending the team pursuit crown he helped win in Beijing.
Despite Thomas’s remarks, the fact remains that with an Olympic gold medal up for grabs, the omnium, while perhaps looked down on by some track purists, is likely to be the focus for many riders hoping to compete at London 2012, and especially all-rounders who are strong in both sprint and endurance events while perhaps not being quite at the top of the rankings in either.
Meanwhile, Thomas added another medal to his collection last week when he picked up his MBE, awarded in the New Year’s Honours List following his performance in last summer’s Olympics.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.