How might Geraint Thomas win the Tour de France? Experience and a big diesel engine

Ineos Grenadiers director confident Thomas 'one of the best we've ever seen' as team counts on his experience in a Gen-Z race.

Photo: Getty Images

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SAINT-ETIENNE, France (VN) – Few would have expected Geraint Thomas to latch back to the wheels when Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar threw down on the Alpe d’Huez – but he did.

It’s a paradigm that might play out again deep in the final week of the Tour de France as the peloton pulls toward Paris.

“Obviously ‘G’ wants to win the Tour again, that’s his ambition,” performance chief Rod Ellingworth told VeloNews.

“He’s got experience and he’ll use that I’m sure, later on in the race. He was absolutely top dollar yesterday [on Alpe d’Huez], one of the best we’ve ever seen of him.”

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Thomas wasn’t to be dropped when his GC rivals exploded on the summit of the Alpe at the close of stage 12 on Thursday.

A tenacious ride through the “21 bends” saw the 36-year-old finish on the same time as Pogačar and Vingegaard and punched him onto the GC podium.

“They’re pretty good aren’t they, little whippersnappers,” Thomas said after his wily ride on the Alpe d’Huez.

“I don’t even try to kick when they go – obviously, I can accelerate but not at that rate, and I knew they’d more than likely mess around. That’s what happened and I came back.”

Vingegaard and Pogačar hadn’t hit the WorldTour or raced a single grand tour when Thomas won on the Alpe and went on to win yellow in 2018.

Four years later, the Welshman is racing to reel back a two-and-a-half minute gap on his decade-younger rivals to make it maillot number two.

“Potentially, one of G’s biggest benefits really is that he’s got that experience,” Ellingworth said.

Thomas’ resilient sticking power and seventeen grand tour thinking could prove his way toward a high step on the Paris podium next Sunday.

Ellingworth and Ineos Grenadiers are counting on Thomas’ vintage diesel engine to overhaul the rocketing revs of Pogačar and Vingegaard in the final week in the Pyrénées and the crucial Rocamadour TT.

“I’m feeling stronger all the time, and I guess it’s that old diesel engine that I’ve got. But in saying that, those two guys in front of me are riding incredibly well,” Thomas said Thursday.

Thomas quietly and confidently stashed his matches through the Tour’s high-pace ride from Copenhagen to the Alps.

Where Pogačar blew himself up on the Galibier shake-up on Wednesday’s momentous stage to the Granon, Thomas rode tempo.

The Welshman hasn’t been drawn to the surges and stare-downs of Vingegaard and Pogačar in a no-frills tactic that put him four seconds from second place.

“He’s coped with the race really well so far and he’s improved. That’s the main thing from when he won in 2018. He’s improved,” Ellingworth said.

“Just the way in which he’s leading the team, the way in which he’s discussing stuff – he’s a quiet guy, but when he says something, it’s meaningful.”

Thomas’ millennial motor and other-era experience is quietly thriving in a race dominated by Gen-Z stars.

Pogačar, Vingegaard, Tom Pidcock and Wout van Aert hogged the headlines and dominated the results sheet in the race’s first two weeks.

Thomas’ time could come when it counts the most: One week from now.

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