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Thomas ticking the boxes ahead of biggest opportunity yet in Giro

Geraint Thomas dives into unknown next month at the Giro, but Tour of the Alps win gives him confidence for his first grand tour as leader.

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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Welshman Geraint Thomas (Sky) dives into the unknown next month in the Giro d’Italia, his first grand tour as a leader, but is ticking the boxes along the way.

In the Italian race Tour of the Alps stage, Thomas won the stage Wednesday and took the overall lead. Today, he won the overall and confirmed he is on path for the Giro.

“This gives me confidence for my Giro ambitions, but of course it’s still unexplored terrain for me, as I still have to take a GC top-10, and I will be competing against big favorites like [Vincenzo] Nibali and [Nairo] Quintana,” Thomas said.

“For me it’s more about keeping up to my plan and focusing on myself at this point. The Tour of the Alps provides five great days of racing with long climbs, so I think this is the perfect preparation for the Giro d’Italia.”

Thomas raced on the track and won gold medals in the Olympics. He elbowed his way through the classics, winning E3 Harelbeke before switching his focus on stage races full time.

He took the Volta ao Algarve title for a second time and the Paris-Nice overall in 2016. As he says, though, riding for the grand tour overall is “unexplored territory.”

Sky, which has won the Tour de France three times with Chris Froome, gave him a chance to ride as option B last year. He learned from his successes and mistakes.

“I think the main thing with last year was over-training a bit, or under-resting really,” Thomas told VeloNews in an interview this February.

“Sometimes you end up pushing too much and going over. That is a constant thing that you need to keep reminding yourself about.”

Thomas, around 152 pounds, explained that he is also not stressing too much about his diet. Last year, he pushed his diet too much ahead of the Tour.

Sky is pushing hard for a Giro spiral trophy, though. The British super team has consistently dominated the Tour de France, but has failed to do so in the Italian grand tour.

The best result it counts so far is second place with Colombian Rigoberto Urán in 2013. It put its weight behind Bradley Wiggins, Richie Porte and Mikel Landa, but they abandoned sick or sore from crashes.

Spaniard Landa joined Sky after he placed third overall and won two summit finish stages in 2015 for team Astana. Sky thought it had its Giro winner, but Landa quit midway through the 2016 edition with stomach problems.

Now, it is sending Thomas as well as Landa in a two-pronged approach to secure its first Giro title.

“I think both Landa and I have chances for the Giro d’Italia: we will go into the third week and see who is better placed in the GC,” Thomas said yesterday at the Tour of the Alps.

“I think having two cards to play can help to take some pressure off both of us. We have a strong team, hopefully we will get more luck than the last couple of years in the Giro.”