Geraint Thomas is grabbing his career by the horns.
He’s not waiting for Chris Froome’s adverse analytical finding to derail his own plans. He’s not going to let that long, complicated legal process dictate his season. He’s not going to let team management at Sky park him on the sidelines for a season while their lawyers try to save Froome’s reputation and career with the team.
In his training camp interview with cyclingnews, Thomas made is abundantly clear that he’s riding for one guy this year and that’s himself. No more nice guy, taking the back seat and patiently waiting his turn and then watching the seasons disappear.
Thomas has been the loyal soldier year after year. He was the first to give public support to team manager David Brailsford during Jiffy Gate, when there were rumors other teammates wanted Sir Dave to step down. Froome withheld his endorsement before finally giving his tepid support but Thomas was willing to back Brailsford immediately.
Thomas has done everything right and by the book in his time with Sky. But there are clearly limits and with Froome’s season up in the air and hanging in the balance, he’s decided to take what he thinks he deserves.
That’s a free ride at the Tour de France — no matter what the outcome of Froome’s legal proceedings.
“Whatever happens, happens. I can’t affect any of that but I’ll have a free role. That will suit me, especially in the first week if there’s wind and we’ve got the cobbles. I can just stay near the front and then maybe have a bit of an advantage after the first nine days,” said Thomas. “If I’m good enough I’ll have a free role to see what I can do.”
Yes, he’ll be there as Plan B if Froome manages to extricate himself from a suspension. That seems less than a 50-50 proposition, despite the enormous legal resources and science experts Sky will throw at the UCI and perhaps the Court for Arbitration in Sport.
Whether Froome rides or not, and whatever physical and mental condition he’s in or not, Thomas has extracted a promise from Sky that he’ll be free to play his own cards. That’s actually a rare occurrence at Sky, where the grand tour captain always has the 100% support of all eight riders.
In the Tour de France. Froome never had a free ride with Wiggins and Mikel Landa (and Thomas) never had one, either, when Froome wanted the maillot jaune. Thomas negotiated himself a unique freedom in the final year of his contract with Sky. He’s already gone on record that he’s more than open to any and all offers from other teams, Trek Segafredo being the squad most often mentioned. He’s making a large bet on himself that could pay off big time with a podium in Le Grand Shindig.
Thomas has looked at the odds and run his own set of analytics. “It’s not a given that Froome will be as strong as ever and rock round and win again. Hopefully, I can be in a similar situation going into the Tour as I was with the Giro this year in terms of form. I could have done both but I said that I’d rather do the Tour and then back-end the year,” said Thomas.
Thomas summed it up nicely and with clear-headed realism about how Sky works and what he plans to do about it. “We’re just going to treat it like it’s another season and he’s going to be the leader but that I’m going there to get the best result for myself.”
Thomas has decided he’s no longer going down the same road as Mikel Landa. Chapeau, Thomas.