Geraint Thomas: It would be nice to go back to the Giro d'Italia in 2024

Welshman reflects on 'three good weeks' in 2023 and looks forward to next season

Clock17:01, Tuesday 17th October 2023
Out of the pink jersey but with a lot to be proud of, Geraint Thomas ended the Giro d'Italia with his head held high

© Sprint Cycling Agency

Out of the pink jersey but with a lot to be proud of, Geraint Thomas ended the Giro d'Italia with his head held high

With the route for the 2024 Giro d'Italia freshly revealed, attention has already turned to who might be battling it out for the pink jersey in the absence of reigning champion, Primož Roglič - who will be firmly targeting the Tour de France with his new team, Bora-Hansgrohe. Geraint Thomas may be one of those looking to the Grande Partenza in Turin next May.

Read more: Top 10 GC riders we want to see at the 2024 Giro d’Italia

Tadej Pogačar has been tipped to start the Giro d'Italia by teammate Rafał Majka, and Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) has been mooted for a leadership position by team boss Jonathan Vaughters, but were Thomas to line up, he would automatically start as one of the hot favourites following his near-miss this year.

Giro d'Italia and Tour de France at the top of Thomas' wishlist

"The Giro is classic Giro really," Thomas commented on next year's route in this week's Geraint Thomas Cycling Club podcast. "It’s going to be super tough.

"It would be nice to go back there after this year, but then at the same time, the Tour [de France] is quite appealing."

With his desires set firmly on winning the Giro d'Italia this past season, 2023 marked the first time since 2012 - when he was targeting the Olympic Games - that the Welshman has willingly skipped the Tour de France in order to appease other priorities. He didn't ride the Tour in 2020, but that was the team's decision, certainly not his.

In contrast, it appears that the Tour de France will return to Thomas' racing programme in 2024, with or without the Giro d'Italia in his legs. Thomas spoke to in August of his desire to return to the Tour and the 2018 champion has already begun to cast his mind on next year's route.

"It finishes in Nice, the last stage is a time trial from Monaco to Nice. It’s a bloody hard TT though," Thomas said.

Read more: Geraint Thomas would love Tour de France return

"Those last few days of the Tour, I think stage 19 we finish up some hard climb, the Saturday is hard and then the final day is a mountain TT more or less. The sprinters will just have to suffer around for three days!"

When questioned how he enjoyed this year's edition, throughout which he and teammate Luke Rowe would provide their occasional musings on the Watts Occurring podcast, Thomas was honest that watching from home is not their preferred method of viewing.

"It’d be nicer to be in the race next year I think, for both of us, we’ll see how that goes."

'I feel like I had three good weeks in 2023,' admits Thomas

The motivation for Thomas to hit the ground running in 2024 will be strong after his 2023 campaign was stunted by a bacterial infection throughout the opening months.

"I think I can look back and be super satisfied [with 2023]," he said. "Because the start was atrocious. I basically had this UTI infection - had no idea how - I got it at the end of the training camp in December and it kept coming back. Tour Down Under... New Zealand... LA."

"We finally found out at the start of March that it was a little calcified stone in my prostate. It was good because then I changed my saddle to relieve a bit of pressure, had some stuff to make sure that [stone] was breaking down and I’ve been fine ever since. It just means that basically from training camp in December to March, I missed 50% of my training."

In the face of these setbacks, the Welshman can be very proud of his efforts at the Giro, which brought him eight days in the leader's pink jersey and second place overall, just 14 seconds down on eventual winner Roglič.

At first, there was no doubt a bitter aftertaste in Thomas' mouth, given that he only surrendered the race lead on the penultimate day time trial when Roglič claimed back 40 seconds and the veteran struggled with sodium bicarb.

But with the old adage of time healing old wounds, Thomas reflects positively on the Giro d'Italia as he heads into the winter.

"There was no consistency [in my training], so to then go to the Giro and end up second by 15 seconds, if they’d told me that before the race, I’d have bit their hand off," he admitted.

"To lose it on the last day was brutal, but when you step back from it and you look, you can be real happy with how I still managed to get in that shape after the stop-start year I had."

If the Giro d'Italia was the high point of his season, the Vuelta a España was certainly the low point, with Thomas crashing multiple times and as he admitted himself, not having the legs to compete throughout the three weeks.

Read more: Down but not out: What kept Geraint Thomas going at the Vuelta a España

After heading into the race with dreams of the podium, Thomas came away with just one top-10 stage placing.

"I had a bit of time off [after the Giro], two weeks maybe, started training again, did everything I could but at the Vuelta, it was one thing after another. I haven’t actually sat down with the team yet, but we’ll sit down and debrief that to see what we think we could do better."

Despite this disappointment, Thomas still knows he can compete with the very best at the Grand Tours, placing second behind Roglič at the Giro and third behind Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar at the 2022 Tour de France.

Compete may be too light a word; Thomas maintains the faith that he can beat the likes of Roglič and looking back at the Giro, why shouldn't he?

"It’s a funny one, it feels like I had three good weeks [this year], but at the start of the year that was my main goal, it was all about the Giro. So it is a year I can look back on and be happy about," he posited.

"If I hadn’t had the run-in that I did to the Giro, I think I would look back a bit less fondly. But I think I probably would have won it as well, to be fair - without sounding like a dick. I think if I didn’t have that infection and missed all that groundwork, I definitely would have been 15 seconds better. In the opening TT, I wouldn’t have lost as much time as I did and then all the way through, I’d have been that little bit better."

'It's been nice to get away'

With the 2023 Giro firmly in the rearview mirror, however, the focus will now continue to be on dotting the Is and crossing the Ts on his new Ineos Grenadiers contract and ticking over in the off-season.

"I need to get the contract sorted first and then I can think about the racing," Thomas said. Though his new deal is not expected to pose any issues and Thomas will join Rowe and a handful of other Ineos Grenadiers riders in renewing their deals for 2024.

Read more: Ineos Grenadiers hasten contract renewals with several riders

Reluctant to spend too much time reflecting on the Vuelta a España, Thomas instead chose to poke good-humoured fun at the benefits - or lack thereof - he has felt since heading into the winter.

"Everybody said the Vuelta would get you through the winter in good shape and form, but every ride I’ve done, I have felt terrible!” he laughed.

"Today I did just over three hours, I had to stop for a muffin and a Coke after an hour and a half, I was blowing! The Vuelta did absolutely nothing for me mate," he joked to co-host Fordyce, "[I was] terrible during and now I’m not even getting the benefits I was meant to be getting - eh, maybe it will come in November!"

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