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A GC rider’s route to the Tour would typically be a scientifically mapped out journey through long winter base miles, early-season stage races, a trip to altitude, and then a final race to sharpen the legs in the month before the Grand Départ. Not this year.
Like the rest of the peloton, Thomas will roll out of Nice August 29 off the back of a spring spent in confinement, and just four weeks of racing in the legs after the August 1 racing re-start.
“Hopefully we’ll have Poland and the Dauphine before the Tour, but there are still question marks over them,” Thomas said this week. “When it comes to recons or training camps, they may be jeopardized by travel restrictions and things, so it’s a totally different build-up to the Tour.”
Speaking with Eurosport while riding his home trainer, Thomas forecast the Tour that could see unexpected bonks and trips to the broom wagon through the peloton.
“That last week will be exciting to watch,” Thomas said.
“People might be going super well for the first 10 days, but without that chunk of racing, and it depends what training they’ve been doing, but I think that last week could see a lot of people blowing up. It’ll be exciting to watch.”
Thomas’ yellow jersey rivals have raised similar warnings in recent weeks, with Nairo Quintana speaking of riders entering unknown territory in the final week of the Tour after such a disrupted build to La Grande Boucle. Tom Dumoulin even went as far as ruling himself out of the GC hunt if he was unable to train at altitude in advance of the Tour.
For now, Thomas is making sure to save his bullets for the three weeks of the Tour rather than wasting any ammo in an over-enthusiastic pre-Tour training block.
“The main thing has been staying fresh mentally,” Thomas said. “Obviously the Tour now has a date, but it’s still 15 weeks away, that’s a long time. It’s about staying fresh mentally and being ready to really knuckle down when it matters, and not burning all your matches now.”
All indications are that the Tour is set to run as planned later this summer, but with the global health situation constantly evolving, nothing can be set in stone. Thomas is attempting to put the uncertainty out of his mind for now.
“There are still question marks over everything,” he said. “We just need to focus on what it is and train and commit to it fully.”
Thomas is set to head up Team Ineos in France alongside reigning champion Egan Bernal and four-time winner Chris Froome. The rumor mill has been set into a frenzy in recent days over reports that Froome may be looking for a new team, a move that could play out before the late-August Tour.