by Barnaby CHESTERMAN
OUDENAARDE, Belgium, April 07, 2014 (AFP) – Welsh rider Geraint Thomas said
he is happy to help Sky team-mates Bradley Wiggins and Edvald Boasson Hagen at
next week’s Paris-Roubaix, despite finishing an impressive eighth at the Tour
Having finished third at E3 Harelbeke 10 days ago and come 10th in Flanders
three years ago, double Olympic track cycling champion Thomas showed he is in
good form on the cobbles.
Despite hurting his back in a crash Sunday, he climbed back onto the bike
and kept up with the favourites until the last 15km, when he found himself in
a fight for the minor placings.
He had come into the race as an outside bet for the win but despite not
quite matching that expectation, he is happy to take a back-seat at Sunday’s
‘Hell of the North’ race and take his turn working for others.
“I’m happy to ride for the team, I’ve said it all winter. I’m happy to ride
for (Ian) Stannard or Edvald. Obviously Stannard’s not starting (due to a
fractured vertebrae) so now I’m happy to commit 100 percent to Eddy and do my
bit for him,” said Thomas, who briefly forgot 2012 Tour de France winner
“Obviously Brad’s got some great form, he’s physically one of the strongest
in the race.
“Positional-wise he was there (in Flanders, where he finished 32nd, 1min
43sec down). He did a great job for the boys.
“Roubaix probably suits him even a bit more. Edvald, him, Bernie’s
(Bernhard Eisel) good, it suits Luke (Rowe) a bit more than this as well. I
think we’ve got a good team and we can get stuck into that.”
As for his own performance in Belgium, Thomas said he had to be happy given
how he felt after crashing.
“I was feeling my back all day. I felt terrible all day but managed to just
hang in there, it’s just frustrating,” he said.
“I think I can still be happy with how it went considering how I felt
because I didn’t feel anywhere near half as good as I did last Friday in E3.
But I managed to just hang in there.
“My back is just real stiff and sore now; just the left side of it. From
the bike it’s one of the places you don’t want to be weak because it’s one of
the places you feel it.”
Thomas, who was also a three-time world champion on the track, had nothing
but admiration for Flanders winner Fabian Cancellara, although he believes Sep
Vanmarcke, who finished third in Oudenaarde, will also be one to watch at
Swiss rider Cancellara, known as Spartacus by his peers, won the event for
the third time, to equal the record, and Sunday will be going for his second
successive Tour of Flanders-Paris-Roubaix double.
“He’s obviously the strongest guy here and to be able to follow him you’ve
got to be good,” said Thomas.
“I don’t think he was as dominant as he was before but he’s obviously the
strongest and for Sep (Vanmarcke) to follow him (when Cancellara attacked on
the Kwaremont climb) shows he’s got really good form and shows he’ll be in
there next week.”