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Geraint Thomas: At least I will always have that Tour de France win

Joe Robinson
19 Dec 2019

Team Ineos' crowded house leaves Thomas frustrated with Tour de France ambitions

It has become a crowded house at Team Ineos and Geraint Thomas seems to be realising he is the one who may need to make way.

Rewind 12 months and Thomas had just been crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year, an award he earned after becoming the first Welshman to ever win the Tour de France.

He beat four-time champion Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin to that title.

However, in a recent interview with The Guardian, Thomas cut a frustrated figure, frustrated at playing second fiddle for Chris Froome for so long and frustrated at the emergence of Egan Bernal.

'When there are better riders in the team, it’s obvious. Teamwork is what you’ve got to do. It’s a team sport and those two guys are special,' said Thomas.

'Froome is the greatest Grand Tour rider of his generation, and Bernal, to win a Tour at 22, he could have 10 or 12 years of being super-competitive. But at least I will always have that Tour win.'

As we enter a new season, Dave Brailsford will be sitting down with team management to discuss the approach for the year ahead and specifically which riders will race which Grand Tours.

As defending champion, Bernal will be given priority to return to the Tour. Froome will, too, as a four-time former champion whose ambitions of record-equalling fifth yellow jersey arguably trump any other goal within the team.

There is also the fact that Froome will not be fit enough to contest a Grand Tour until June as he continues his long recuperation from a career-threatening injury.

Thomas defended his 2018 title by finishing runner-up at this year's Tour, and that was to a teammate in Bernal. But it seems that may not be enough to secure him what he wants – the chance for a crack at a second yellow.

It appears that it may only be enough to earn him joint leadership at the Giro d'Italia in May, which comes with its own problems. 

Firstly, Team Ineos have bought defending Giro champion Richard Carapaz, with the Ecuadorian certain to be riding in defence of his title come May. 

Secondly, Thomas is still holding out for a ride at the Tour.

'We need to confirm it all, to chat it through, but at the moment it’s all about the Tour again,' said Thomas.

'You have to weigh up your position in the team and it’s about what motivates you. There is no point going to the Giro just to be the leader and only being 95% motivated. You need to be all-in. I’d love to do the Giro [to win] one year, but next year what excites me is the Tour again.'

Racing the Tour with three leaders is something Brailsford is unlikely to do. A man of detail and fine margins, he is unlikely to risk hedging the expectations of three riders when it means all could miss out.

Obviously, Thomas would argue that the past two Tours have seen Team Ineos/Sky place two riders on the podium with joint leaders due to being 'open and honest with each other' and 'pulling in the same direction, never chasing each other down' as Thomas also stated.

But, you cannot help to think three leaders is over-egging the pudding – just ask Movistar – and as of right now, Thomas will be one to miss out.

By the time the Tour reaches Nice in July, Thomas will be 34 years old, an age that only three riders have ever managed to win the Tour after, and he isn't even certain he'll actually be at the race.

Realistically, it looks like Thomas's Tour de France dreams could be over for 2020, but as he said, 'At least I will always have that Tour win.'