Geraint Thomas is the standard-bearer of that older generation of riders that still has no desire or intention to abdicate and leave the spotlight to the new generation. And why should they? If, at the age of 36, you make it onto the podium of the Tour de France behind only such sacred monsters as Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar, that means retirement can wait a little longer.
This guy may not be the one of 2018, a rider who was competitive all year round and capable of dominating the Tour de France, but thanks to his experience, the Ineos Grenadiers champion knows how to properly prepare a competition and reach peak form at the right time. His 2022 season is there for everyone to see, and this year his idea is to try and improve it with a remarkable the Giro d’Italia. At the Tour Down Under and the Volta a Catalunya, Geraint raced mainly to put kilometres in his legs, while at the Tour of the Alps, a sort of warm-up to the Corsa Rosa, he started to push himself, while at the same time making himself available to eventual winner Tao Geoghegan Hart, and began to show a condition that all his rivals should not make the mistake of underestimating.
To have him at his best at the start on the Costa dei Trabocchi would mean having a serious candidate for the Maglia Rosa. Moreover, let’s face it, Thomas has some unfinished business in Italy, along with a big credit with Lady Luck. And in a career as extraordinary as his, never having managed to finish a Giro as a protagonist is something to be made up for.
Thomas is part of that extraordinary generation of British track riders who were able to monopolise velodromes around the world for several years. After all, it is no coincidence that he is a two-time Olympic champion and three-time world champion in the team pursuit. Like his role model Bradley Wiggins, however, Geraint went through a slow but unstoppable transformation into a stage racer, which reached its very peak after the age of 30, leading him to score three podium finishes in the last five editions of the Tour de France.
At the Giro, however, it never did go as he would have hoped. He attended it four times: in 2008 he was still a young lad with little to no experience in road racing, and in 2012 he was nothing more than a good time trialist (so much so that he came close to the Maglia Rosa in the opening ITT in Herning, finishing 2nd behind Taylor Phinney) without any serious GC ambitions. In 2017, however, after an excellent start to the Giro that seemed to establish him as one of the most credible contenders for the Maglia Rosa, the Welshman ended up on the ground on the Blockhaus stage due to a maxi-crash caused by a State Police motorbike. The resulting pain in his shoulder and knee forced him to raise the white flag before stage 13. Then, in 2020, his adventure lasted just three stages, as he fell by running over a stray water bottle that was rolling across the road during transfer section of the Etna stage, suffering a fractured pelvis. “I felt even better than at the 2018 Tour,” he said at the time, “but thanks anyway Italy, I will be back soon“. Well, he is definitely back this year! Perhaps a little later than one might have hoped, but it is never too late to score a settle, it is never too late for unfinished business, and Geraint Thomas knows the business of cycling like few others.
On the other hand, one who owes the Corsa Rosa the highlight of his career so far, is Geraint Thomas’ team-mate Tao Geoghegan Hart, who this year seems to be back to the best version of himself, namely the one that won him the Giro in 2020, when he had to replace the injured Thomas as team captain. Whether it’s one or the other, the British duo have their eyes on the Trofeo Senza Fine.