Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) may not carry the “fear factor” of Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) – but that does not mean he should be discounted at the Tour de France, claims Bradley Wiggins.
Thomas became just the second rider in history to claim career wins at the Tour de Suisse, Criterium du Dauphine and Tour de France with victory in Switzerland last week.
It has fuelled hopes he can make a surprise challenge at the Tour next month, with the Welshman expected to fight for leadership duties at Ineos alongside Adam Yates and Dani Martinez.
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Wiggins believes Thomas is in “podium contention” and said his surprise return to form at 36 is "amazing".
“Within the sport, he doesn’t maybe carry that fear factor like Pogacar or Roglic,” Wiggins told Eurosport on a call with journalists.
“He’s very underrated. I think it’s because he’s so synonymous with that team [Team Sky, later Ineos Grenadiers]. He’s not gone to that team from previous success.
“Geraint Thomas is part of the fabric of British cycling – he’s the same lad he was when he was 18 who rocked up at the track. There’s no airs and graces with him and there’s no bulls*** with him either.
“Some years he fails miserably through crashes or illness or simply not having the form – and when he doesn’t have the form, he’s the first to say it.
“It’s that no-nonsense attitude, there’s no razzmatazz with him. He’s not fazed by anything, really. He doesn’t play the game – mind games, things like that – he just gets on with it.
“You didn’t expect much of him this season and suddenly he pops up two weeks after the Tour and wins the Tour de Suisse. It’s amazing. I can’t underrate him because I’ve seen the man’s quality since he was a junior and I’ve always been his biggest fan.”
Geraint Thomas (left) celebrates his Tour win in 2018
Image credit: Getty Images
Thomas has suggested a “crazy” first week featuring cobbles and likely echelons could dictate who emerges as Ineos’ leader in the yellow jersey battle.
"We all know what the Tour is like, that first week is just crazy, and with the cobbles this year and some windy stages, it is more of a case of get through that first week and see where we stand,” he told BBC Sport.
"It is not out of the question but I would be quite surprised if three of us were all in the top 10 after the first week, just because how dangerous it is with all the crashes. Plus that first week is not necessarily suited to Adam or Danny really, but then you have got all the mountains to come after that."
This year’s Tour marks the 10th anniversary since Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner of the Tour to spark Team Sky’s domination of the sport’s biggest race between 2012 and 2019.
But with the emergence of Slovenian superstars Pogacar, a two-time champion, and Roglic, Ineos have a huge fight to get back on the top step of the podium.
The 2022 Tour begins on July 1 in Copenhagen.
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Stream the Tour de France live and on-demand on discovery+. You can also watch all the action live on eurosport.co.uk.
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