You may have noticed Welshman Gertaint Thomas has all but disappeared. After his romp at the 2010 Tour de France’s Stage Three, clinging in the select group on the cobbles, the former champion of Britain became a household name (at least in cycling households). Thor Hushovd took the win that day, but the performance put Thomas into the white jersey for most of the Tour, a feat he would repeat in 2011 only to lose it to his teammate. Before that, Thomas won the Juniors version of the Paris-Roubaix and took the win at the Bayern-Rundfart. He’s got the talent to win big Classics, and so does his team. Team SKY has Juan Antonio Flecha and Edvald Boasson-Hagan for the Classics, and Thomas would provide ample support and even a third option for races like E3 Prijs and Dwars.
But he isn’t in Belgium this week, nor is he even in Europe. He isn’t even riding outside. It’s an Olympic year, and Geraint Thomas has turned his attentions to the track for most of the 2012 season. Thomas spent much of February at the World Track Championships, with the highlight being a very close second to Australia in the team pursuit. He’s chosen to skip the Classics as prep for London this August as too much too soon, as well as dangerous with the numerous crashes. The option for the Olympics even played a big role in his resigning with SKY last summer during the Tour. Geraint believes the Olympics are a once in a lifetime opportunity (which they really are) and is committed to defending his gold medal from Beijing in 2008.
Instead of returning to the Tour in July, SKY will send Thomas to the Giro this May as prep for the Olympics, where he will probably ride in support of either Richie Porte or Christopher Froome. The hard miles will serve as a base for the his London prep. Thomas will ride the team pursuit, though may choose to forgo the individual pursuit, as he did in 2008, saying he didn’t want to damage the team’s chances by racing the individual event the day before the team pursuit.
He’s already said that the 2012 Olympics will be his final foray in the velodrome, returning to the road for the Vuelta and the world championships after London, with no plans to return to track racing in the future. While Team GB will certainly miss Thomas indoors, they have a lot to look forward to from Thomas as a Classics threat and a serious workhorse in stage races for the likes of Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins, Richie Porte and Chris Froome.
Thomas will undoubtably be glued to the Ronde van Vlaanderen this Sunday and the Roubaix April 7, cheering on his squad via Twitter. We’ll get a look at his form at the Giro from May, but there may he drop off the radar until the track events in London. kolo tc will keep you updated on Geraint’s Journey to Gold. We will probably call it that, too. You can check out his website and follow him on Twitter.