With everything seemingly pointing in the direction of Dani Martinez being Ineos’ leader at this year’s Tour de France, Geraint Thomas has staked a late claim. As discussed in a recent article analysing the Ineos Grenadiers’ line-up heading into the 2022 Tour de France, it looked like Martinez was going to be the lead rider with a strong supporting cast. The team is adamant that their collective approach can beat the likes of Pogačar and Roglič but it looked like the team was more likely to score blockbuster stage wins and make the top-5 overall instead.
Now though, the 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas has shot to the top of the pack after an impressive win at the Tour de Suisse. It was a race Thomas agonisingly lost in the final time trial to Simon Špilak back in 2015 so the win was cathartic too. In yesterday’s final time trial, Thomas was just 3 seconds behind stage winner Remco Evenepoel, which was enough to leapfrog Sergio Higuita into the race lead. It marks the first time a Briton has won the Tour de Suisse in the race’s long history.
The race was badly affected by Covid-19 withdrawals with around 30 riders leaving the race early, including the then race leader Aleksandr Vlasov and teammate Tom Pidcock. Thomas successfully negotiated around the changes, helped drop new race leader Jakob Fuglsang and still come out on top.
The collective approach to this year’s Tour de France is still there with Thomas confirming that he is ready to help one of his Ineos Grenadier teammates win the Tour but won’t turn down opportunities to win himself if things pan out that way. After crashes took him out of last year’s Tour de France and the Tokyo Olympics, winning here will re-affirm what the Welshman can achieve.
“From the Tour (de France) last year to the end of the season was … probably one of the hardest periods of my career
This year I started slightly on the back foot but I’ve really enjoyed the racing and being with the younger guys in the team and building up. I just want to go (to the Tour de France) and race hard and do what I can.
We’ve got two other leaders in the team and whether I can stay up on GC (general classification) for a while to play another card, or go for stages, or help other guys, whatever.
I’m just happy to do whatever. Take my chance for sure if it comes, help the boys if I have to.”Geraint Thomas
Photo Credit: El Toro Media