Geraint Thomas warmed up for the Tour de France with his first stage race win in four years and warned: “I’ll be ready to take my chance if it comes.”
The 2018 Yellow Jersey winner defied searing heat to become the first British winner at the Tour of Switzerland and admitted he was relieved to emerge from the “hardest black period” of his career. At 36, Thomas has only an outside chance of another triumph on Le Tour next month – the last rider to reach the Champs Elysees in clover beyond his 35th birthday was Belgium’s Firmin Lambot 100 years ago.
But Wales’ double Olympic champion on the track, just three seconds behind overnight leader Sergio Higuita, surged past the Colombian by more than a minute in the final 16.5-mile time trial. Thomas, whose 2021 season was blighted by a dislocated shoulder on Le Tour and another heavy crash in the road race at the Tokyo Games, cut a sorry figure 11 months ago, cursing: “I must have done something bad in a previous life.”
But he was in better heart after narrowly finishing second, behind stage winner Remco Evenepoel, to take the Tour de Suisse title, saying: “It’s nice to get the win – from the end of the Tour (de France) last year to the end of the season was probably the hardest black period of my career.
“I started this year slightly on the back foot, so it’s super-nice to be racing at the ‘pointy’ end of a race again and to get this win. To be honest I didn’t expect this after coming here with two other leaders in the team and doing lead-outs earlier in the week, but I’m really happy to finish it off well.
“I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t win the stage – I didn’t realise how close it was and I didn’t really get the time checks on the radio, but I can’t be too greedy. It’s been super-hot all week and the biggest challenge has been dealing with that and it’s been a big workload.
“I want to go to the Tour and race as hard as I can – we’ve got two other leaders in the team and whether I can stay up on GC (general classification) for a while to play another card, go for stages or help the guys, I’m happy to take my chance if it comes for sure.”
The Tour de Suisse, was severely hit by Covid withdrawals, including Britain’s Olympic mountain bike champion Tom Pidcock and Ineos team-mate Adam Yates.