February 6, 2019 / 4:30 PM / in 5 months

Tour champion Thomas feels no pressure as season begins

(Reuters) - Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas said he can start his season this week with “no pressure” having finally made his big breakthrough in 2018.

FILE PHOTO: Team Sky's Geraint Thomas in Cardiff, Britain - August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

The Team Sky rider dethroned team mate Chris Froome last year to become the third Briton since 2012 to win the Tour.

“It’s strange when you reach the pinnacle, something I’ve dreamt of doing, it takes all the pressure off now,” Thomas said in an interview with the BBC.

“Now I’m just going to enjoy racing, riding my bike and the challenges that brings. But I’ve reached it now. I’ve done it.”

Despite saying he feels like he has “unfinished business” on the Giro d’Italia, where he crashed out in 2017 while in second place overall, Thomas confirmed he will definitely miss the Italian race to concentrate on the Tour de France.

“Maybe I’ll race it next year but this year has always been about the Tour,” he said.

“I did not want to jeopardise the chances of the Tour for anything this year. As defending champion I feel as if I have to go back and want to be in the best shape possible.”

Thomas got his season under way this week at the five-stage Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in southern Spain — his first race since last September’s Tour of Britain.

The 32-year-old said he will not be expecting much from the Spanish race as he gets up to speed.

“I’m in good enough shape to race, but I wouldn’t say I’ll be going for a podium or a win, it’s just a case of getting going again,” he said. “My initial goals are in April.

“I want to go to the Tour and get there in the best shape possible.”

Thomas opened his account at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana with a 13th-placed finish in the time trial.

“I could have ridden it a bit better and saved myself for that climb a little bit more. But that was a good hit out and same again for the next few days,” he said after the stage.

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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