Geraint Thomas has to be considered as one of the favourites for the upcoming Giro d’Italia, according to his former teammate Ed Clancy.
The pair won two Olympic team pursuit gold medals together at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, before the Welshman switched his focus entirely to the road.
A strong showing in the 2015 Tour de France – in which he was in with a shot at a podium finish until the final few days – led many to believe Thomas has what it takes to win one of cycling’s three Grand Tours.
After winning both Paris-Nice and the Volta ao Algarve in early 2016, he went into the 2016 Tour as Chris Froome’s undisputed number two and finished 15th, exactly where he ended up the year before.
In 2017 he has been given the chance to lead Team Sky at a Grand Tour for the first time, with the Giro d’Italia now firmly in his sights, and Clancy is not short of praise for his former colleague.
“He’s got to be possibly the most talented rider I’ve ever worked with, just seeing what he can do on the track, and at the same time to be able to back it up on the road, is incredible,” said the five-time world champion, who was speaking at the launch of Season 15 of the Revolution Track Cycling Series.
“He’s not always on it, but when he’s on it, he’s on it. He goes about his riding and his goals like no one else, and I think right now that’s what we’re seeing.
“He’s got to be one of the absolute favourites for the Giro now – I don’t want to jinx anything, but everyone would love to see him do well, so fingers crossed.”
Normally a regular at the Spring Classics and the leader of Team Sky at the prestigious Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix one-day races, Thomas has switched his early season programme to encompass more stage races.
He began his season with 49th overall at January’s Tour Down Under, before returning to Europe and finishing fifth at Tirreno-Adriatico – a race that included an impressive stage win in Pomarance.
He went on to finish 37th at the Tour of Catalunya, before becoming the first Brit to ever win the Tour of the Alps, thanks in no small part to a win on stage three.
And Clancy thinks that show of climbing strength will give Thomas huge confidence, with no-one doubting his ability in the 67.2km of time trials that will feature in the 100th edition of Italy’s national race.
“Winning Tour of the Alps is a huge boost – it was impressive stuff,” added Clancy.
“If he can climb with the best of them, he’s going to put time into them in the time trials and he’ll have no problems on the flat days.
“I think the whole nation is behind him.”
See the world’s best road teams take on the champions of the track in the Revolution Track Cycling Series. Tickets now on sale at http://cyclingrevolution.eventbrite.com