Geraint Thomas hopes to be involved at the sharp end of Paris-Roubaix after confirming he will return to the cobbles in 2018. The Welshman skipped the ‘Hell of the North’ in 2016 and ‘17 to focus fully on stage racing but is excited about the opportunity to tackle Roubaix again.
The 31 year old plans to ‘drop in’ and race Roubaix as part of his build up to the Tour de France and, although keen to stress that he won’t be doing any Classics specific training, he believes anything can happen on the road to the Roubaix Velodrome.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I love racing the Classics – they are the races I grew up watching and I’ve had a little bit of relative success in them in the past.
“I’ll still be training as a stage racer, trying to go up hills as fast as I can, but I’m super excited about dropping in and doing Roubaix.
“I’m definitely not going to be as good as I could be when it comes to that real punch and capacity effort over a few minutes. But the form should be good and it’s still a bike race – anything can happen, especially at Roubaix. There have been surprise winners in the past.
“You never know, but I would hope to be there towards the final. If I can be there to help one of the other guys win that would be great.”
Thomas is just back from an early-season training block in Los Angeles and is readying himself for his 2018 debut at the Volta ao Algarve on Wednesday – a race the Welshman has won twice, in 2015 and ’16.
“Basically I fancied a bit of a change,” he explained. “I’ve been to Australia for the last seven years and it has worked really well for me, but like I say, I just wanted to mix it up a bit.
“I was thinking of new places I hadn’t been and January is a bit of a weird time of the year in Europe. I spoke to a few people and they spoke highly of LA. Sa, my wife, has a cousin out there as well so we went and it was perfect for what I needed. There’s a decent amount of climbs, lots of flat, rolling road – it’s ideal for January.
“Now I’m looking forward to racing. I don’t feel quite as good as I have in the past at this stage because I’ve had that slightly slower start, but I’ve been feeling half decent in training. I’ll be going to Algarve trying to get the best result possible.
“I’ve got good memories from the race and it’s a nice event as well. There are two tough days and then a TT, so it’s a good way to start racing. The weather is generally pretty good – although now I’ve said that it’ll probably rain every day! Kwiato is there as well so hopefully both us will be in decent shape to try and do something.”