Geraint Thomas – stepping up
The withdrawal of Chris Froome on stage five leaves Richie Porte as Team Sky’s leader but it has also seen Geraint Thomas promoted to second-in-command.
There is little doubt about the heirachy at Team Sky – Porte was touted as the Plan B before the race had even begun and, with that, Thomas remains at Porte’s disposal as a domestique.
With Froome in the team car and the first of stage five’s cobbled sectors to come, the two-time Olympic gold medallist, a top ten finisher in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix earlier this year, sat up from the front group, dropped back to Porte and helped move the Australian back up through the race when he could have ridden for a stage win of his own. Thomas’ ride on the pavé has, however, contributed significantly to the second place position that Porte holds in the general classification at the first rest day.
Thomas’ ride on La Planche des Belles Filles on stage ten is noteworthy, too, and he climbed to 19th on the stage and 14th overall. There in a nutshell is Thomas’ quandary. The junior Paris-Roubaix champion is an immensely talented Classics rider but has also been touted as a potential Grand Tour contender in the mould of Wiggins. Where the 28-year-old chooses to specialise is to be seen but the 2014 Tour de France could provide a firm indication of the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s potential over a three-week Grand Tour.
Thomas is capable of a top ten finish come Paris but that could undermine his and Team Sky’s attempt to help Porte claim a podium spot. How the Welshman’s form fares over the next 11 stages, and how much license – if any – he is given to express that will be fascinating.