Rod Ellingworth: If Geraint Thomas does what he normally does then he’ll finish on the Giro d’Italia podium

Former team principal tells GCN that the Italian Grand Tour isn’t over as he catches up with his former riders at the race

Clock15:22, Wednesday 15th May 2024
Rod Ellingworth and Geraint Thomas

© Getty Images

Rod Ellingworth and Geraint Thomas

Stood among the onlookers at the Giro d’Italia stage 10 summit finish, Rod Ellingworth cut a figure of excitement as he mingled with the Ineos Grenadiers staff he used to call colleagues.

Almost six months out of the team, and the newly appointed race director of the men’s and women’s Tour of Britain, Ellingworth was at the Giro d’Italia on a fact-finding mission - liaising with the RCS Sport staff that run the Italian Grand Tour and finding out the intricacies of his current role. 

As he talked to the likes of Geraint Thomas and Ben Swift, and with Belstaff, Ineos’ clothing brand, still adorning his chest, Ellingworth backed up Geraint Thomas’s credentials as a podium candidate for the race, and even refused to rule out a possible overall win for the rider who used to call him boss.

“If he does what he normally does then he’ll definitely finish on the podium,” Ellingworth said, with Thomas currently sitting third, and close to three minutes off Tadej Pogačar’s maglia rosa.

“It’s not impossible to win. And it’s not done and you never know with Grand Tours. You look at the riders who have gone home today, and anything can happen. That’s what I said to Geraint, ‘just keep your chin up’,” Ellingworth added.

Read more: Geraint Thomas keeps his powder dry as Giro d'Italia reaches mountain stalemate

Ellingworth was instrumental in Team Sky’s and later Ineos Grenadiers’ success, but he departed the team at the end of 2023 with the squad undergoing a makeover in terms of their structure and senior management. The core of the squad that Ellingworth either recruited or worked with remain on the team and he was impressed with the collective spirit and the results they have yielded in the race so far.

“Just looking at how the whole team are riding, they’re doing a huge credit to themselves,” he said.

“Geraint is looking as good as ever and I said to him this morning ‘you could do two more years’ and he just looked at me. He looked at me a bit sideways but he’s going really well against one of the best Grand Tour riders in the world. But they’ve all proven that they can have those days and Geraint is fantastic. Just talking to Magnus Sheffield this morning, you can just see the experience that Geraint has got.”

Ellingworth’s primary task in Italy was to spend time with RCS and learn the ropes of race management. He still keeps a keen eye on racing but watches events through a different lens these days.

“I love cycling and I watch as much racing as my family will allow. I end up watching it on playback because the kids often don’t let me but I still watch a lot of it. I still, obviously, support this team massively but I look at it from a different perspective,” he told GCN.

“It’s just about the role in general really having never done it before,” he said when asked about his attendance.

“I’ve been trying to speak to as many organisers as possible and gaining as much knowledge about the role. Obviously the in-race part I’ve not done yet and that’s quite crucial. So I’ve been seeing how they’re doing it, although I didn't understand all of it because it was in Italian.

"I’ve been surprised by how relaxed they are in certain circumstances because they had some motorbike breakdowns and discussions around the neutral service car and if it would go behind the groups. You take that for granted in many ways and when you’re in the team cars you’re not really thinking about any of that. It was good to see the process and the communication.”

For everything you need to know about the 2024 Giro d'Italia, from the history of the race to this year's route and start list, be sure to check out our dedicated race hub.

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