Geraint Thomas is happy to be back on the cobbles as he prepares to race Paris-Roubaix for the first time since 2015.
The Welshman has switched his focus to stage racing over the last three years but, with a cobbled stage at this year’s Tour de France on the horizon, Thomas found space in his race programme to drop in to the 'Hell of the North' once again.
And although keen to stress that he has done no Classics-specific training in the lead up to Roubaix, Thomas is upbeat about his condition. Second overall behind teammate Michal Kwiatkowski at the Volta ao Algarve - where he picked up a stage win - and third overall at Tirreno-Adriatico points to a man in form.
Speaking to TeamSky.com after flying in from a team training camp in Tenerife, Thomas said: “I’ve been up there for just under two weeks and probably averaged over 3,500 metres of climbing every day. On our Roubaix recon today I think we did less than 500m! It’s a bit different, but hopefully the legs are good anyway, fitness and form wise. I’ll try to use that.”
How would Thomas compare to the rider he was three years ago on the eve of Roubaix?
“I would have been a lot more punchy,” he explained. “Two, three, four-minute power, which you get when you’re doing the Classics all the time, with those short punchy climbs, going in and out of corners all the time.
“In stage races it’s a lot more about sustained threshold, climbing for half an hour. Here the racing is a lot more aggressive. Hopefully as the race goes on I’ll be able to keep doing that higher power, and then everyone will sort of come down to my level. But I guess we’ll see!
“It’s been a while. I do miss riding the Classics, and this group of guys as well. It’s nice to be back.”
The amount of mud and how slippery they were was ridiculous.
Thomas and the team rode the final 100 kilometres of the route on Thursday, taking in 20 of the famous cobbled sectors.
“I did a recon a couple of weeks ago as well before going up to Tenerife,” continued Thomas, “and I really enjoyed it. The first couple of sectors weren’t so enjoyable today though! It was tough just to ride over them without crashing. The amount of mud and how slippery they were was ridiculous, but once I was able to get a bit of power down and get moving, it was nice.”
‘G’ took a slow speed tumble - “I got a bit muddy!” - but he’s hoping for better luck on Sunday.
“In these races it’s about being in the right position and if you’re in the right place then you limit the bad luck that could happen.
“I’m feeling pretty good and I had a good block of training in Tenerife. We’ll see.”