Geraint Thomas, one of Britain’s favourite cyclists, won the Volta ao Algarve this week, beating Alberto Contador in the process. This, coupled with the fact that Thomas defended his title having won this race last year, cemented his place as one of the sport’s fastest rising General Classification stars who could potentially win the Tour de France in the future.
So far, Thomas’ career has followed a remarkably similar path to that of his Team GB and former Team Sky team-mate Sir Bradley Wiggins. Wiggins, like Thomas, first established himself on the track, excelling at endurance events, particularly the individual and team pursuit. Memorably, both cyclists were part of the 2008 team pursuit squad who won gold in Beijing, annihilating the then-world record in the process. Thomas was also part of the squad that repeated that achievement in 2012, again breaking the world record.
Although these track wins have greatly contributed to an impressive palmarès and to Thomas becoming a household name, the commitment to the track has held back his road racing career. Much like Wiggins, after losing weight and focusing on the road, Thomas defied all expectations at last year’s Tour and was challenging for a podium place until stage 19 when he cracked and finished the Tour in 15th place. This result was made all the more impressive since he had ridden the majority of the race as a domestique in support of Chris Froome, who won that year’s Tour.
He has repeatedly clearly stated that his first priority is to be an able and loyal team-mate to Froome and to help him win the Tour de France for a third time. While he is ever improving, there is little doubt that currently, Froome is the stronger GC rider, particularly in the mountains. However, Sky are keen to develop his potential and so have indicated that they will be giving him more opportunities this season.
Thomas’ versatility, ironically, may be hindering him. He is equally at ease in the Classics and stage races and may have to choose a speciality in the near future to accelerate his career further. He has often expressed a wish to win a monument such as Milan-San-Remo and this will most probably be his more immediate goal.
While Geraint Thomas’ talent is undoubted, there are various factors preventing him from totally fulfilling it yet. It is difficult to believe that he has only been concentrating on road racing for just three years and his considerable achievements in this period certainly mark him as a potential Tour de France winner. For the time being, though his priorities are to assist Froome, currently the best stage racer in the world, in winning the Tour as many times as he can.