Geraint Thomas could be tempted by a return to the Giro d’Italia in 2020 as he assesses his Grand Tour options.
The Welshman followed up his 2018 Tour de France win by finishing second to team-mate Egan Bernal this July, but knows there will be fierce competition within Team Ineos for selection to next year’s race.
Colombian Bernal seems sure to want to defend his title while it appears four-time winner Chris Froome is progressing well from the horror injuries which ruled him out of this year’s race, having been named on the entry list to the end-of-season Saitama Criterium in Japan next month.
No decisions have yet been made, but Thomas indicated he would be open to racing the Giro – an event he targeted in 2017 only to see his hopes ended by a crash involving a police motorbike.
“I’m going to wait at least until I see the courses, the routes for the Giro and the Tour and then go from there,” Thomas said.
“You’d think Egan would want to ride (the Tour) again, obviously, being the defending champ. Froomey, it’s his big goal, he wants to win five.
“I’m definitely not going to make a call until at least December training camp, sit down with the team. Obviously, we’ll be chatting to them before that anyway, but maybe make a call around then really.
“Even if I did the Giro, it would still certainly excite me and get me out of bed in the morning.”
Froome’s form is perhaps the biggest question given the long catalogue of injuries the 35-year-old suffered in June, including a fractured femur and fractured elbow, but Thomas is happy to see him feeling fit enough to head to Saitama at the end of October.
“It’s great to see him back,” he said. “I haven’t spoke to him recently. I had a missed call from him yesterday. But it’s great to see him back on the bike, just to be there and racing at Saitama, just to be riding around with those guys.”
There will be a queue within the Ineos squad for the Giro too, of course, following their signing of defending champion Richard Carapaz, but Thomas believes heading to Grand Tours with two leaders has served the team well in the last two years.
“I think two does work and has worked for the last two years,” he said. “As long as we keep that same philosophy. I’ll look at both the routes and see what motivates me and see what the other guys are thinking as well. And then just go from there.”
Thomas will ride for Great Britain in the men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships on Sunday but withdrew from the time trial earlier in the week, saying he was short of his best form after a gruelling 15 months following on from his Tour victory.
Thomas certainly enjoyed his post-Tour celebrations last year, but then found that increased media appearances and the attention of being a Tour winner contributed to a tough winter.
One advantage of finishing second to Bernal is leaving all that to his team-mate this year.
“It’s just so different already after this Tour,” he said. “The difference between winning and second is massive. When you win your phone is constantly going and you get pulled left and right.
“When you’re second nobody really cares, you’re just back to normal, you go about your business and you just do what you do.”
Thomas will continue to target the Grand Tours for now, but the 34-year-old – long considered a Classics specialist with top 10 finishes in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix to his name – wants to return to the cobbles of northern Europe before he calls it a day.
“There comes a point where you need to decide to focus on one thing and the Tour and Grand Tours has been the main focus for the last three or four years,” he said.
“Another year or two and then for sure, I’m looking forward to going back to Flanders and Roubaix and those races.”