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“This year has always been about the Tour,” says Team Sky star

Geraint Thomas has confirmed he will skip this year’s Giro d’Italia “to be in the best shape possible” to defend his Tour de France title.

Chris Froome, who has made no secret of his ambition to win a record-equalling fifth yellow jersey at the Tour de France this summer, dropped a not-so-subtle hint last week that he would like to see his Sky team-mate race the Giro d’Italia beforehand, saying the route suited the Welshman.

> Chris Froome aims for fifth Tour de France title, says Giro d'Italia course "perfect" for Geraint Thomas

But Thomas, who crashed out of the Giro d’Italia when he was targeting overall victory in the race two years ago – he was lying second overall at the time – told BBC Sport that his priority this year is the French Grand Tour.

"The Giro feels like unfinished business and I wanted to think about that," he explained. "Maybe I'll race it next year but this year has always been about the Tour.

"I did not want to jeopardise the chances of the Tour for anything this year.

"As defending champion I feel as if I have to go back and want to be in the best shape possible."

He admitted that the route of the Giro d’Italia, which starts in Bologna on 11 June, was “attractive, especially with three time trials, although they are hilly."

Besides the Tour de France, Thomas said his other priority this year is the time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire in September, on a 54-kilometre course starting in Northallerton and ending in Harrogate.

"I still have some big goals and targets to get me out of bed in the morning," the 32-year-old said.

Before Christmas, broadcaster Sky said that it would terminate sponsorship of the team at the end of this season, although there are hopes that it will be able to continue beyond 2019 if a new backer is found.

Thomas – together with Froome, one of the founding members of the team in 2010, said: "We just have to concentrate on riding our bikes but we have every faith we should be able to find another sponsor.

"We want the team to stay together and I have been here since the start in 2010. It feels like family and we want to stick together."

Thomas was speaking ahead of his 2019 season getting under way at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana today, where he finished 13th in a short, 10.3-kilometre individual time trial, won by Dimension Data’s Edvald Boasson Hagen.

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.