Geraint Thomas reflects on his Tour so far… while Dave Brailsford plans for London 2012
British Cycling to conduct post-Tour tests on riders to decide which Olympic events they'll ride
Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, one of the undoubted stars of the first week of the 2011 Tour de France and of course road.cc’s Fantasy Cycling pundit in the pro peloton has been reflecting on an eventful first ten days of the race. Meanwhile, Dave Brailsford, who besides being team principal of Team Sky is also performance director of British Cycling, has said that Thomas will undergo tests next month to gauge how his condition might be in 12 months’ time ahead of the London Olympics.
“The race has been great,” Thomas told road.cc. The 25-year-old Welshman spent the first week of the Tour at the head of the best young rider’s classification, which he had also topped briefly last year after finishing second to Thor Hushovd on Stage 3 of the 2010 race over the Paris-Roubaix pave.
“To wear the white jersey again was great and to be up at the front every stage so far has been even better, including when leading out,” continued Thomas, who has recorded a string of top 10 stage finishes and also put in the burst that set up Edvald Boasson Hagen for Team Sky’s first ever Tour de France stage win in Lisieux last Thursday.
Thomas confessed though that despite looking as strong as an ox in the opening days of the race, “I am waiting for that day when it all catches up with me!”
The Cardiff-born rider lost more than three minutes and the lead in the young rider’s classification, as well as sixth place on GC, on Friday after waiting in vain for Bradley Wiggins to rejoin the race following the Team Sky’s leader’s crash that put him out of the Tour with a broken collarbone.
For the remaining Team Sky riders, of course, there are another two weeks still to race. “We are okay,” said Thomas. “For sure it was disappointing but the race goes on. There's a lot more stages to go for and we have attacked every day so far. Morale is still good and we are having a good time.”
As for Sunday’s incident when his team mate Juan Antonio Flecha crashed after being struck by a car belonging to France Télévisions, Thomas simply said: “It shouldn't happen. End of story.”
Brailsford, meanwhile, told the Guardian that Thomas, who picked up Olympic gold at Beijing in 2008 in the team pursuit, will be among British riders to undergo tests shortly after the end of the Tour to help plan which events they should ride at London 2012.
"If Geraint is going to ride a team pursuit, we need to look at that carefully. We are going to do some tests and find out how he reacts to a three-week grand tour," explained Brailsford.
Thomas is currently pencilled in to help defend the team pursuit title in the Olympic Velodrome, while Mark Cavendish – who if rumours are to be believed will himself be a Team Sky rider next season – is pretty much a certainty to compete in the road race which could see the first British gold medal of the race.
Brailsford added that there was a compelling case for Wiggins, another member of that Team Pursuit-winning squad in Beijing, to perhaps focus on the individual time trial instead, and if that did turn out to be his target, it would make sense for him to ride next year’s Tour de France.
"We will sit down and look at the options,” Brailsford said. “We have got to win medals and if we thought he could medal in the individual time trial and we had another rider who could medal in the team pursuit and we wouldn't lose anything there, it's an obvious thing to do.
"If Brad was to ride the individual time trial in London and the road race as well, Mark's chances would be significantly increased if you had Bradley Wiggins in the road race to help him out," he continued.
"At the end of the Tour this year, Cav will be in great shape. He gets better as the race goes on. For him to race again in 10 days in a one-day race, I can't see a better preparation," Brailsford added.
"With the road race guys and road time-trial guys, the Tour de France could potentially be the best preparation."
According to Brailsford, testing Thomas and other riders after this year’s Tour will help provide answers to a question that is currently the subject of some debate within British Cycling.
"There is a feeling that you get massive volume and massive endurance over a three-week Tour but that it just takes the edge off the top end," he stated. "So we'll want to have a real look at that. There's another school of thought that says it's the best thing you can possibly do."
He was adamant, however, that the prospect of an Olympic Games on home soil meant that it was clear where the focus should be next season.
"The London Olympics are our priority 100% over the Tour de France and it's Team Sky's too. This is a one-off home event. We will put the Games first," he concluded.