Geraint Thomas hopes to be involved at the sharp end of Paris-Roubaix after confirming he will return to the cobbles in 2018.
The 31 year old plans to ‘drop in’ and race Roubaix as part of his build up to the Tour de France and, although keen to stress that he won’t be doing any Classics specific training, he believes anything can happen on the road to the Roubaix Velodrome.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to it. I love racing the Classics – they are the races I grew up watching and I’ve had a little bit of relative success in them in the past.
“I’ll still be training as a stage racer, trying to go up hills as fast as I can, but I’m super excited about dropping in and doing Roubaix.
“I’m definitely not going to be as good as I could be when it comes to that real punch and capacity effort over a few minutes. But the form should be good and it’s still a bike race – anything can happen, especially at Roubaix. There have been surprise winners in the past.
“You never know, but I would hope to be there towards the final. If I can be there to help one of the other guys win that would be great.”
‘G’ has traditionally started his season a little earlier, racing the past seven editions of the Tour Down Under, but he fancied switching up his preparations this year.
I’ll be going to Algarve trying to get the best result possible.
“I was thinking of new places I hadn’t been and January is a bit of a weird time of the year in Europe. I spoke to a few people and they spoke highly of LA. Sa, my wife, has a cousin out there as well so we went and it was perfect for what I needed. There’s a decent amount of climbs, lots of flat, rolling road - it’s ideal for January.
“Now I’m looking forward to racing. I don’t feel quite as good as I have in the past at this stage because I’ve had that slightly slower start, but I’ve been feeling half decent in training. I’ll be going to Algarve trying to get the best result possible.
“I’ve got good memories from the race and it’s a nice event as well. There are two tough days and then a TT, so it’s a good way to start racing. The weather is generally pretty good – although now I’ve said that it’ll probably rain every day! Kwiato is there as well so hopefully both us will be in decent shape to try and do something.”
He continued: “I’d like to go and do a good ride in Tirreno, especially after last year and the bad luck we had in the team time trial. We’ll just have to see how the form is after Algarve really. With my slightly slower start I’m not sure exactly where I’m going to be - but I should be there or thereabouts.
“I’m hoping the slower start will help me at the Tour - that’s the plan. It’s a steady build up to keep me a bit fresher for longer. Hopefully I can go into the Tour in good shape.”
Before tackling Le Tour Geraint has his eye on one more one-day race – Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Remarkably, the Welshman has never tackled La Doyenne before, but he hopes to tick that box in 2018.
He added: “It’s a race I’ve always loved watching and have always wanted to do but it’s just never worked out. Because I’ve always done the cobbled Classics I’ve always been a bit nailed – I was going to do it a couple of years ago but I was a bit tired and it didn’t happen.
“From the training I will have been doing it should suit me a bit better [than Roubaix]. I’m certainly looking forward to going there. We will have a super strong team - Kwiato, Sergio, Wout… It will be good to go and do that and see what happens.”
For now though, Thomas is simply relishing getting back out there and pinning some fresh numbers on his back in Portugal.
“I’m super keen to get out there and race now. With the change I’ve had, going over to LA and being on new roads, I feel like it’s given me a new lease of life, a new motivation.”