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Tour de France

Domestique for now, British champ Geraint Thomas dreams of yellow

British champ Geraint Thomas of Team Sky is a domestique for now, but he dreams of yellow.

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2010 Tour de France, stage 3, Geraint Thomas and Steven Cummings
Thomas leads Steven Cummings on the cobbles on stage 3

He knew his effort Sunday was a no-hope move, but he’s hardly a no-hope rider. In fact, the 24-year-old Olympic track champion is confident he could capture the yellow leader’s jersey of a future Tour de France.

Geraint Thomas, Team Sky’s 24-year-old British road champion, found himself again off the front of the Tour de France Sunday on the road to Ax 3 Domaines, but said he had no delusions of figuring into the high-mountains finish.

His first breakaway of the 2010 Tour came on stage 3, the “Paris-Roubaix” day, when he placed second to Thor Hushovd. After an impressive fifth-place finish in the prologue, his ride over the pavé earned him the best young rider’s jersey, which he kept until the race hit the Alps on stage 7 and Andy Schleck took over the white jersey.

It was a promising start to the Tour for the young man from Wales, who won the junior Paris-Roubaix in 2004 before finding success on the track as a member of the British pursuit team that captured Olympic and world championship gold in 2008.

Looking down the road, Thomas hopes to employ his pursuit skills to capture a Tour stage win.

“I’d still like to get the yellow jersey,” he said. “I think I have a good shot with the prologue. I was OK this year. I was fifth. It would have been nice if everybody had the rain, but obviously I can’t control that. But in the next couple of years, that’s what I’d like to do, really.”

This year, on the first big day in the Pyrénées on stage 14, Thomas charged into the day’s breakaway. He was dropped on the hors categorie Port de Pailhères and caught by the Astana-led main group at 35km to go, when he handed off cold drinks to team leader and fellow Team Britain trackie Bradley Wiggins as well as Thomas Lövkvist.

“The plan was for me to get in the break just so I could feed the guys once we got onto the proper climb,” said Thomas.

Thomas eventually settled in with a 19-man group that included Lance Armstrong.

“It was just amazing the amount of shouting he got,” Thomas said of Armstrong’s fans on the course. “It’s just amazing the life he lives, that dude.”

Thomas may not yet be a household name in the United States, but he’s quickly improving at the Tour.

“When I rode in 2007 I was the youngest guy in the race, and I was just swinging every day. Every day was a massive struggle just to get through,” he said. “It’s a lot nicer to be here this year and be able to soak it up a little more. Now I’m actually in the race. And I’m still feeling good, still racing hard, still doing my job for the lads.”

That said, as an accomplished track rider who specialized in 4-minute pursuit efforts, his mind has already turned toward Paris. “I can’t wait,” he said. “It can’t come quick enough.”