Thomas hopes new role brings luck on 13th Tour

Geraint Thomas
Geraint Thomas first competed in the Tour de France in 2007 [Getty Images]

Geraint Thomas is relishing the "freedom" of his new role after being named by Ineos Grenadiers for his 13th Tour de France.

The 2018 champion has been tasked with supporting team leaders Egan Bernal and Carlos Rodríguez when the race begins on Saturday.

At 38, Thomas proved he still has the legs to compete in the general classification (GC) with a third-place finish in the Giro d'Italia in May.

However, he later admitted that could prove to be his last Grand Tour as team leader.

Now the Welshman, who has stood on every podium position at the Tour, will for the first time immediately follow the Giro with the Tour.

He delayed the decision on whether or not to attempt the double, but freed of the shackles of leadership, says he is ready to revel in the day-to-day racing.

"I can’t quite believe I am starting my 13th Tour de France - let’s hope it’s a lucky one," he said.

“I didn’t know how I would feel after the Giro and getting back to training as I have never done the Giro-Tour double before, but it’s been a solid block and the legs are feeling pretty good.

"I thought it would be really hard to stay on it but I’ve enjoyed it and got some good work done.

“Obviously, it's a slight unknown how the body will respond given I haven’t had a season like this before, but I am feeling pretty fresh mentally and just looking forward to the Tour getting started now."

Thomas has proved a most effective super-domestique before, helping Chris Froome to four of his yellow jersey triumphs before taking the shirt himself in 2018.

“It's going to be a super competitive and hard race, but we’ve got a super-strong team with plenty of experience and Carlos is clearly on the up this season.

"Personally, I am looking forward to racing with a bit less pressure and more freedom to mix it up and try to get really stuck in.”

Thomas is among three British riders in the Ineos team alongside Ben Turner and Tom Pidcock, who has shown the form to take another Tour stage having won the Amstel Gold Race in April.

Ineos performance director Scott Drawer said: “The competition is tougher than ever, but nothing is a given in Grand Tour cycling.

"We have been racing this season as the hunters not the hunted and that brings its own advantages. The Giro last month was a perfect example of how we love to race as a team - putting pressure on, fighting for every opportunity and taking chances.

“Carlos has continued to impress and beside him will be the strength and Tour experience of Egan, with Tom and Geraint looking to race aggressively, disrupt and take the race to our competition."

The Tour de France begins in the Italian city of Florence on 29 June.