Geraint Thomas has said that while his main goal for the season is to give Tour de France “one more good go,” he is also targeting the road race at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in August. Meanwhile, four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome’s sole focus is to continue his recovery from injury to be in the right condition to line up at this year’s Grand Depart of the race in Nice.
The pair were talking at last week’s Team Ineos training camp, with Thomas saying: “The Tour will be my big goal for myself again.”
The Welshman, winner of the Tour de France in 2018, had already ruled himself out for the Giro d’Italia, where Team Ineos will be led by new signing and defending champion, Richard Carapaz.
“Obviously it was tough for the Giro as well because I'd love to go back there at some point, but I just wanted to go to the Tour one more time as a big hit,” Thomas said.
“Obviously the Olympics afterwards is still important to me. That's the reason why I just fell in love with sport really, watching the Olympics as a kid, in my front room on the floor, just wanting to be a part of it – not necessarily in cycling but just in any sport. So the Olympics will be big as well.”
Thomas won track gold in the team pursuit at both Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012 and four years ago focused on the road race at Rio, but crashed out of medal contention on the final descent with around 10 kilometres remaining.
“With the Tour and the Olympics, it’s such a quick turnaround, obviously considering the time difference as well. I think ideally it probably would be another week (apart),” he said.
“I think maybe racing the Giro and then doing a different programme like [the Tour of] Poland may actually suit the Olympics better.
“But I've done it a few times now where I've come out of the Tour and gone straight into some races, like the Commonwealth Games for instance in 2014 [where he won the road race].
“I did the time trial on a Thursday and the Tour had finished on the Sunday. I think it's just a mindset thing a lot of it. We'll see how that goes, and obviously I’ve got to be selected for the Olympics as well first. I'd love to ride the road race and the time trial there.”
Regarding the Tour de France, he said: “At the end of the day the Tour is the Tour, and I just wanted to give it one more good go.
“From the start it’s very challenging, up and down and every sort of two or three days there's a tough day. It's different in that respect, that it's not the traditional flatter, sprinter days then Alps, transition and Pyrenees. So that'll be exciting and different.
“Obviously the TTs [time trials] have been going shorter and shorter, which I’d prefer them not to, but that's just the way it is and that's the challenge. You’ve just got to go for it. You’ve got to be in it to win it as they say.
“It motivates me and that's why I'm just going to go out and give everything I can to get there in the best shape. And then once you're there, you do what you can and if I don't win or if I don't podium or top 10 or whatever, I think the success will be just getting there in my top shape and going from there.”
For Froome, meanwhile, the focus is simply on being in the right condition at the start of the race to be able to challenge for a record-equalling fifth yellow jersey, in a Team Ineos line-up that in Thomas and Egan Bernal contains the two men to have succeeded him on the top step of the Champs-Elysees podium.
“I've been given all the green lights to get back on the bike and I'm just making that transition now from the rehab phase back into normal training again,” he said.
“I'm really feeling the fitness at the moment, but I've got to start somewhere and I'm just incredibly fortunate to be back on the bike again and for everything to be working correctly.”
Froome said he was in no doubt that the coming months would be “pretty tough” and acknowledged that it “really is a key period for me. This is where I'm going to build the foundation for all the hard work to come.”
Describing the recent months as “one of the toughest tests of my career, mentally, as well as physically,” he said: “The only appointment I've set myself is the Tour de France – and until then, every week I'm just going to keep chipping away, keep trying to make the most of every camp and every race to build up to July and hope that come that start line in Nice, I'll be ready to go.
“The prospect of going for a fifth yellow jersey is just massive for me, it's such a motivation. But on top of that now, obviously coming back from this injury, it's even more reason for me to try and get back there.
“There are no guarantees in sport. No guarantees that I'll be back to challenge for it, but I'm going to give it absolutely everything I've got.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.