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Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar looked near-untouchable in grand tour racing in 2021. But Geraint Thomas is sure they can be beaten.
Speaking at the recent Rouleur Live show, the 2018 Tour de France champ said that the new era of Slovenian dominance isn’t watertight.
“They can definitely be beaten,” Thomas said of Roglič and Pogačar.
“This sport is always evolving and changing from equipment, to the way you’re trained, to diets. I think that all filters down from the pros to U23s and juniors. I think now we see the guys coming in from junior and U23 level are like professionals already, and they can step right in [to the WorldTour] as Pogačar has.
“Him [Pogačar] and Roglič are setting the benchmark now and their teams are improving all the time. So it’s pushing everyone to keep fighting, but that’s what drives you as well, that competition.”
Thomas suffered through this year’s Tour after crashing in the first week. He was unable to challenge for a second yellow jersey and left as a spectator while Pogačar trounced the field and defended his title.
Just weeks later, Thomas abandoned the Olympic road race after a seemingly innocuous mid-bunch crash early in the race.
It made for a disaster summer after a promising spring that included victory at the Tour de Romandie and third-place finishes at both the Critérium du Dauphiné and Volta a Catalunya.
“It was a good start [to the season], probably the best start I’ve had for a long time,” Thomas said.
“Obviously, the Tour, when I crashed on day three, was not ideal. And then the Olympics after that getting caught up in the crash there as well. But that’s bike racing really as we all know … you’ve just got to get on with it, there’s no other way around it.”
Thomas told Rouleur Live that he’s finalized contract negotiations with Ineos Grenadiers for 2022, though the news has yet to be made official.
The Welshman will be elbowing for space in the grand tours at Ineos Grenadiers next year however.
Reigning Giro d’Italia champ Egan Bernal and Richard Carapaz, who went on to finish third at the Tour after Thomas lost the wheels, are likely to get top-billing. Adam Yates and 2020 Giro winner Tao Geoghegan Hart add further options.
At 35 years old, Thomas said he wanted to make the most of his final years in the pro peloton.
As a former winner of E3 Harelbeke and with a history of top results in cobbled classics, Thomas left the door open to a return to the one-day races that he turned away from when he pivoted toward stage-racing.
“I wouldn’t mind doing something a bit different, especially now coming into the last few years of my career,” he said. “The main thing is just enjoying bike racing and I want to race as much as I can. I’ve got to look at the grand tours and the routes and stuff to decide if that’s something I want to do, or maybe I’ll do something a bit different. But I just want to enjoy it.”