By Nick Hussey, 08 October 2011 | Comments (0)
Geraint Thomas has a lot of potential. Considering what he's achieved so far, aged 25, you could reasonably argue that assigning the word 'potential' to an Olympic Gold medallist and more, is rather insulting. But Geraint - 'G', has so much more.
But what could he be? What are his best cards to play? And will he be able/allowed to reach fruition? Does he have enough steel behind his enviably chirpy persona?
G could master any trade. A superb time-triallist, a powerful kick in the last K, climbing - now demonstrated in his TDF break, and he has the wily operating style needed for the Classics. But which, or how many of these, can he really dominate?
More relevant perhaps is his place in the Team Sky dynamic. I was disappointed that he signed a 3 year deal with Sky. Because at the moment he's a leadout in Grand Tours and only given free rein in selected other races (such as as his GC win in stage race Bayern-Rundfahrt). There are a LOT of chiefs at Sky and G is potentially better than Wiggins, but Brad is the GC leader of choice, as he is following a solid linear path of improvement and is the safest bet. G is still young, of course.
Surprisingly, I hope Cav doesn't go to Sky, because the fundamental focus of the team will shift to sprinting, as more than likely so would Thomas', as The New Mark Renshaw deluxe leadout.
Will Geraint be looking back at Thor in the Cobbled Classics?
Whatever happens, the talk is that G is a Classics man. He has an engine, street smarts, and a finish. But he needs to be given leadership status this year. He's not THAT young and has a lot of learning to do at the front. He's also an admirably selfless team rider, but he needs to play politics and be selfish without rocking the boat a little. We can only guess what would have happened if he'd not been leading out Edvald Boassen-Hagen and ordered not to wait for Wiggins in The Tour. When I first saw Brad had crashed, I was gutted, but elated that G would now get full support to go for the GC. I had my head in my hands when I heard he'd waited! I thought it was incredibly naive to wait, whether it was his decision, or the team's. Is he TOO good a team-mate?...Still, it shows the great morale and team spirit at Sky!
Time to think about being the Big Man, not the Deluxe Support.
Overall, he's got the potential for anything. One big win could catapult his self-belief to the point where he's a major player, not just a prospect.
He reminds me of someone like Gianni Bugno, a strong, light, complete rider who could climb, sprint, TT and mix it, but is not a head bashing name taker like Hinault. (Is Hinault like anyone?!)
Gianni Bugno in The Rainbow Jersey (again).
Next year needs to be his year, starting in Milan San Remo and definitely in Flanders. Could he even be the British Tour De France winner Dave Brailsford said we'd get within 5 years of Team Sky's inception?
So many choices. Hell, it's easy for me to pass judgement as an armchair viewer. Maybe all the right ones were made when Geraint signed his new contract? Time will tell.
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