Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas has given his thumbs-up to the route of September’s Tour of Britain, which with its final-day time trial in London could make him one of the favourites to clinch the overall title should he still be in contention at that stage, assuming he takes part in the race.
No plans have yet been finalised for the Welshman’s racing programme beyond June’s Critérium du Dauphiné 2011, but the Tour of Britain is a race he’s enjoyed taking part in since his days with Barloworld.
With a stage finish in Caerphilly, this year’s route also takes the race to just five kilometres from the Cardiff suburb of Whitchurch where Geraint grew up, and should he feature in the Team Sky squad for the race, he is bound to receive some great home support on that stage.
Talking about the introduction of the 10km time trial on the final Sunday ahead of a road race on the Whitehall to Tower Bridge circuit last seen in 2009, Geraint said: “I think it’s a really good thing. It’s great for the team, we’ve got some good time triallers if they’re there or thereabouts on the GC, and it’s good for the public too, they get a full day’s racing.”
As for Stage 4 of the race, which runs from Welshpool to Caerphilly, that’s a route that Geraint knows very well, and in particular the final 50km on roads he’s ridden many a time in training.
“It’s really exciting to see the route,” says Geraint. “The race is becoming stronger, and whereas once it might have been viewed as an end of season race, that’s no longer the case – everyone wants to race it.”
That was a view echoed by his Team Sky colleague Greg Henderson, winner of the Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey last year, who says that the Tour of Britain is one of two races now considered to be vital as preparation for the World Championships in Denmark, the other being the Vuelta.
Similar feedback from leading teams following last year has led to the longest stage of this year’s race, Stage 7 from Bury St Edmunds to Sandringham, being set at 200km specifically to provide a warm-up for Copenhagen, and Geraint says that the leading outfits are happy with the race in general.
Although we’ll have to wait a few months to find out whether Geraint is in the Team Sky line-up for the race, he has no doubt that he’d like to ride his home tour if possible, saying “the Tour of Britain’s something I’d love to do.”
Ahead of that, his immediate racing programme comprises the Tour de Romandie in Switzerland which starts next Wednesday, the Bayern Rundfahrt in Bavaria in late May, then the Critérium du Dauphiné in early June.
Geraint put in a strong performance in the latter race last year, finishing fourth in the Prologue won by Alberto Contador then third on Stage 1 after his team mates worked hard to get him into a great position for the bunch sprint, which he freely admits isn’t his forte.
Those performances led to him spending several days in the green points jersey during the race. Contador would be the eventual winner of that jersey, with Geraint coming fifth in the points competition. The overall title was won by RadioShack’s Janez Brajkovič, with Contador in second place.
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.