Welsh ace to make debut in Italian classic after strong showing in Paris-Nice

Geraint Thomas has received a late call-up to the Team Sky squad for this weekend’s Milan-San Remo, with the Welsh rider set to make his debut in La Classicissima following a strong performance in Paris-Nice, which finished on Sunday. He is likley to replace Michael Barry, who recently came down with a virus.

In the opening days of the French multi-stage race, Thomas regularly featured at the front of the peloton inside the closing kilometre as he played leadout man to Greg Henderson, helping the New Zealander clinch victory on Stage 2.

The Olympic team pursuit champion provided further evidence of his versatility on Sunday’s final stage in the hills above Nice when, in rainy conditions more reminiscent of his native South Wales than the South of France, he worked tirelessly at the front of the main group to help protect Bradley Wiggins’ podium place.

This will be the 24-year-old’s first participation in Milan-San Remo, and he’s relishing the prospect of his first participation in the 298-km race which gets under way outside the Lombard capital’s Castello Sforzesco at 0845 UK time, arriving at the Italian Riviera town some seven hours later.

“It’s one of the biggest one day races of the year and obviously the first of the year, so I’m really looking forward to it, it should be a good race,” Thomas told road.cc.

The British Champion finished second behind Thor Hushovd in Stage 3 of last summer’s Tour de France, held over the Paris-Roubaix cobbles, a race in which he is a past winner of the junior version, showing his credentials as a potential Classic winner.

As for his plans for the Italian Spring Classic, Thomas, who recently launched a new personal website, is waiting to hook up with the rest of the squad in Italy to discover Team Sky’s tactics for the race.

However, the way he was riding in Paris-Nice, should he find himself the lone Team Sky rider in the front group on the way up the Poggio, Saturday’s final climb, anything’s possible.

Joining him in the Team Sky line-up for the race should be Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Juan Antonio Flecha, Thomas Löfkvist, Michael Rogers, Ian Stannard, Bradley Wiggins, whose inclusion in the squad was previously announced on the team's website.

Milan-San Remo is of course the opening race in our season-long Fantasy Cycling game, and we’ll be providing a full preview of the race including expert analysis from Thomas to help you make your selection, as he’ll be doing for road.cc throughout the 2011 season.

If you haven’t already signed up, head over here for your chance to win some great prizes courtesy of Evans Cycles.

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.