Checking in on Geraint Thomas after the opening Classics weekend.
The first big return to cobbles after one year off on the track went well for the Welshman. Geraint Thomas’ return to the Classics almost went awry early on, and it took an impressive display of fitness and fortitude after recovering from a crash. It all looked like going wrong, but Thomas came out of the melee and fought his way back to a select group.
Thomas’ 2011 debut confirmed a 2010 where he showed some amazing skill on the cobbles, including an amazing ride in the Tour de France’s third stage. Racing over the Arenberg sectuers, Thomas rode with the most on-form Classics men of the day, including Fabian Cancellara and Thor Hushovd. Now, he’s working his way back to that level with an extra year of fitness under his belt, along with a gold medal and world record. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad went well in spite of the crash and for Team SKY, Geraint’s form was impressive on a team steeped with talent.
After winning their much sought-after Grand Tour, Team Sky have decided to target the Classics in 2013, working with riders like Bernie Eisel, Ian Stannard, Edvald Boasson-Hagen and Thomas as the bulk of the squad. With so many solid options, it was wondered how free a rein Thomas would have, especially with EBH riding so consistently last season. It appears Sky will play the double-card favored by teams like Cervelo and BMC in the past; someone gets up the road, works the break, and someone else goes for the sprint. While it may not seem revolutionary, when the players are proven Classics veterans, it can completely alter the face of the race. Look at Paris-Roubaix, E3 and the like in the past years; pick your poison.
For now, Thomas will be content with his Classics build-up and believes, with the full support of his team, he can win the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix this year. He’s yet to cross swords with Cancellara and with a Tom Boonen at full strength, but the opening weekend is certainly a very good sign.