FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Welshman Geraint Thomas just won the Tour de France and lined himself up for the biggest contract to date — but it may not be with Team Sky.
The track/classics rider developed into a grand tour rider over the last nine years with Sky. He is now the most in-demand rider on the market, which officially opened Wednesday.
“It’s quite fortunate I didn’t sign before the Tour!” Thomas told the BBC when asked if he was staying with Team Sky.
Thomas is believed to have worked out a deal before the race with Team Sky. The renewal, he said at the start of the Tour, was due to be announced early in July.
Perhaps he had signed a preliminarily deal with a bonus for the Tour or one that let him renegotiate if he won the Tour. Or perhaps he had not yet signed a renewal at all. Thomas admits it is an “interesting” time for him and his future.
“The team worked for me, we won the Tour, it’s crazy, but the way the team is run works really well for me. But I’m open to hearing other options. I don’t just want to go to any ol’ team because the main reason I won the Tour is because the strength of the team in this race. But yes, it’s interesting times.”
Last summer, Sky’s brass locked in Chris Froome on a contract through the 2020 season. Froome went on to win a fourth Tour title and the Vuelta a España, and, this season, the Giro d’Italia.
Froome will want to return to the Tour de France next summer to have a crack at equaling the record of five victories. Sky also has emerging Colombian talent Egan Bernal on its roster.
Thomas would need to find his place on the roster, but he has not had a problem doing so yet. It will cost the team, though. Thomas is set to sign the biggest contract of his career at an estimated 3.5 million British pounds ($4.6 million).
Froome’s salary is unknown, but estimates have it around 4 million British pounds ($5.25 million). That would mean keeping Froome and Thomas on the books is a big deal even for a team with an estimated $42 million annual budget.
Team Sky general manger David Brailsford said it is just a matter of sorting out the contract.
“It’s just the value of the contract — it won’t go down, let’s just put it that way,” Brailsford said.
“People don’t have a problem paying for performance and neither do we.”
Thomas is riding a round of post-tour criteriums in Belgium and in the Netherlands. He is planning on returning home to Cardiff, Wales for a celebration later this week.
It’s unlikely Sky would send Froome or Thomas to the Vuelta a España that starts in just three weeks in Málaga. Instead, it may rely on young leaders like Tao Geoghegan Hart.
Thomas could race the Tour of Britain in early September, which for 2018 makes a trip through Wales.
For now, Thomas is soaking it all in, including a much-anticipated Welsh cake that he enjoyed after celebrating Sunday night. He posted a photo on social media of him and his wife eating them in bed early Monday morning.
“That was crazy because I put that on my Instagram and then the next day it’s on the front of a newspaper. It’s probably a sign of things to come,” Thomas told The Daily Telegraph.
“It’s just been one thing after the next. Maybe when I get home tomorrow, shut the front door and sit on the sofa, it will start to sink in.
“I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to experience it to know what it’s really going to be like. But I don’t mind. I’m generally a pretty relaxed guy. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can just go with the flow.”