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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary

Geraint Thomas believes he can win the Tour de France one day

Here is a short part of an extended interview with Geraint Thomas in The Guardian:

Does Thomas believe that, in a few years, he could win the Tour de France himself? “Yeah. I certainly think it’s a lot more achievable than I did three months ago. If I keep on improving, commit to it totally, have a team around me, a podium is certainly realistic. And you’d aim to win it. You would be there or thereabouts – especially if the route was good for me. It’s certainly exciting.”

Would Team Sky eventually allow Thomas to race against Froome – or will there always be one definitive leader? “I think you can have both – but it will depend on the buildup. We’re both honest enough to know that if the other guy is better we’d commit to each other. I certainly would and I’m pretty sure Chris would do as well. But it’s a tough one. It’s like the last Olympics and in the sprint you had [Chris] Hoy and [Jason] Kenny chasing one spot.”

At least there is none of the prickliness that blighted Team Sky in 2012 when Froome and Bradley Wiggins were such uncomfortable team-mates. “Yeah,” Thomas agrees, “there’s none of that. This Tour was good fun. Me, Luke [Rowe], [Ian] Stannard, Pete [Kennaugh] all grew up racing together. It makes a huge difference to be doing the Tour with your mates. Me and Luke used to train on Thursday evenings at the Maindy track [in Cardiff]. It’s surreal to be in the Tour with him, and winning it with Froomey.”

At 29, Thomas is approaching his peak and his appetite for a team leader’s role is growing. “Yeah, for sure. But I can’t see Froomey disappearing any time soon. My deal with Sky expires next year but at the moment I don’t want to leave for another team and be their leader because Sky is the best place to learn – and be in the best position to get a result. Maybe two years down the line I will feel: ‘I know exactly what I’m doing now, and exactly what it takes.’ If I have to leave then, then I would.”

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas descending in stage 16 of the 2015 Tour de France

He has compared Dave Brailsford, the head of Team Sky, to “your best mate’s dad”. But, as the racing becomes more serious, can they still talk with blunt honesty? “I feel like I can. At the Vuelta [Tour of Spain] we had a few good conversations about the future. I’m quite comfortable going to him about anything. Obviously he’s my boss but we’ve got that bond which will always be there.”

Brailsford and Shane Sutton identified Thomas privately as the most likely first British winner of the Tour de France a year before Team Sky even began – when he had just won Olympic gold as part of the 2008 track team-pursuit with Wiggins, Ed Clancy and Paul Manning. “I didn’t believe it,” Thomas remembers. “I went ‘Pffffff.’ Then I saw Brad do it [win the Tour in 2012] and that flipped the switch in me. Maybe Shane and Dave saw the same characteristics in me.”

Thomas considers Wiggins’s commitment in 2012. “It’s the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen. It was like the coaches put together a computer programme which Brad followed to perfection. Eat this, pedal this fast for this long, sleep for this long. Brad was like a monk and that year he won everything: Paris-Nice, Romandie, the Dauphiné, the Tour, the Olympics.”

Does Wiggins talk to Thomas about him emulating such success? “Brad talks to me a bit – but he is hard to get hold of. Even with the wedding, just getting a reply from him was tough. But then he got back to me and of course he was coming. I’ve always looked up to him, but he’s still a mate. It’s a weird one.”

Thomas is also close to Froome and, again, he takes inspiration from the way his team leader transformed himself. “Chris is much more assertive now. Before – with all respect – he was a bit like the team joke. You could tell he was special because he had this really good engine. But he was so up and down and his knowledge of the sport was nothing. Even when Nibali went to Astana he was like: ‘Who’s that new Astana guy?’ He’s a lot more into it now. Certainly with his rivals, he always knows what Nibali’s doing or what he’s said. That’s the most impressive thing. He’s so aware of the media, and reads it all, but none of it gets to him.”

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Ivan Basso to become Tinkoff technical coordinator

Here's the team's news release:

After announcing his retirement as a professional rider, Ivan Basso is embarking on the next step of his already long career in cycling. Basso will assume the role as Technical Coordinator of Tinkoff Team, overseeing, developing and optimizing the collaboration between the athletes and technical functions. “A happy rider is a fast rider”, says Basso, who is currently with the squad at the team meeting in Poreč, Croatia.

Following the announcement in early October that he would end his racing career, Ivan Basso is already active in his new role in Tinkoff Team ahead of the 2016 season. The 37-year old Italian takes on his new function after 17 seasons as a pro and expresses his gratitude towards the team.

“I’m extremely happy and I thank the team owner Oleg Tinkov, the management of the team and the sports directors for their warm welcome in relations to this new role I will have within the team. It’s a very important opportunity for me to start a new path in my career. I will be the link and coordinator between the riders and the group of sports directors. I will ride with them, I will test the new material, the race courses and I will do whatever is necessary to help the team”, comments Ivan Basso.

Ivan Basso at 2016 Giro presentation

Ivan Basso (center, with trophy) at the 2016 Giro d'Italia route presentation

As Head Sports Director of Tinkoff Team, Steven de Jongh underlines the team’s reasons for swiftly deploying Basso as Technical Coordinator.

“It’s a pleasure to formally welcome Ivan in his new role with the team. He is an integrated part of the squad and a great teammate and friend, so the transition has been very smooth during the last months. Ivan has just ended a long and notable career, so he’s obviously very well connected to the life as a pro cyclists and what it takes to perform”, states Steven de Jongh and adds:

“Ivan spent time with me during some of the races of the second part of the season and he’ll be following me during the first period. Surely, you need a lot of passion to do this job and Ivan has that so I’m very confident ahead of the next season. Without a doubt, a team like us can benefit from Ivan’s experience, when it comes to physiological, mental and technical aspects. He will take on a newly formed position on the team and I honestly can’t think of anybody else, who is more suited to take care of these responsibilities than Ivan”.

BMC's Loïc Vliegen to have heart surgery

This from BMC: Santa Rosa, California - BMC Racing Team's Loïc Vliegen will undergo surgery Thursday to correct a congenital heart defect.

Dr. Michel Cerfontaine, Vliegen's longtime sports doctor, diagnosed the issue at the CHR de la Citadelle in Liége, Belgium. The procedure will take place at Université catholique de Louvain Woluwe in Brussels under the supervision of Dr. Etienne Hoffer and Dr. Thierry Sluysmans.

"The BMC Racing Team has been in continual communication with Loïc and his treating physicians," Dr. Testa said. "We are optimistic that we will have him back for next season."

Vliegen said, "I am in good hands and am very grateful to Dr. Cerfontaine and the staff of Liège Citadelle."

Giant-Alpecin's Lars Van der Haar will race at European Championships

The team sent this note:

With two victories at the World Cup Valkenburg and Woerden; second place in Gieten; third in Ronse; and fifth at last weekend’s race in Zonhoven, the first full racing month of October can be described as successful for Team Giant-Alpecin’s Lars van der Haar (NED).

“October was a good month for me because I reached the podium several times and even took two victories,” said van der Haar. “I am very satisfied with my current level and my race at Valkenburg because it was one of my main goals for the season and I achieved it. November will be a hard month, starting this weekend with two races and next week with the European Championships, which is an important race on home ground, and the parcours suits me well.

“I hope to continue achieving good top-five results and for sure hope to take some more victories. For now I have to continue to work hard and stay healthy and fit until my short block of training at the beginning of December.”

NOVEMBER RACE CALENDAR
01/11/2015 - Oudenaarde, Belgium
07/11/2015 - European Championships: Huijbergen, the Netherlands
08/11/2015 - Ruddervoorde, the Netherlands
15/11/2015 - Asper Gavere, Belgium
22/11/2015 - Koksijde, Belgium
29/11/2015 - Hame Zogge, Belgium 

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary