Team Sky’s Head of Performance Sport Tim Kerrison spoke to Cyclingnews and gave the Welshman the backing he hasn’t had in recent years.
Thomas confirmed in January that he would be tackling the Italian Grand Tour, after having performed as Chris Froome’s right hand man in the Tour de France in recent years.
As previously reported Thomas will share leadership with the Spaniard Mikel Landa, who joined the squad last season but wasn’t able to have the impact he desired.
Sky have endured more than their fair share of bad luck in recent years at the Giro, where their leaders have repeatedly had to drop out of the race.
Kerrison feels Thomas is ready for a Grand Tour bid
“We sat down at the beginning of December and the sports directors responsible for each of the Grand Tours presented what they knew about the routes,” said Kerrison.
“At the end of that meeting I asked them, ‘out of everyone in the peloton, and in our team, who is best suited to this Giro?’ Other than Chris, obviously, Geraint was the next name that came up,” continued Kerrison.
Kerrison is a quiet figure within the sport and his praise of Thomas is significant considering the hugely talented roster the British World Tour team have. Wout Poels had been rumoured to want a share of Sky’s Giro leadership as well, the Dutchman won Sky’s first monument at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2016, but through backing Thomas over Poels Sky will surely have given him immense confidence going forward this season.
Sky’s Giro squad which is also expected to include Sebastian Henao, Ian Boswell, Benat Intxausti and Gianni Moscon is looking extremely strong and the team are hoping that in 2017 they can win the race for the first time.
“We’d love to be better in the Giro. We’ve got Pinarello, Sky Italia, and Castelli, who would love us to be more competitive," said Kerrison.
Sky's director sportif said: "We prioritise the Tour above all else in terms of recruitment and selection. In doing that there’s always going to be a cost for events that aren’t in our Tour. But we think that we’ve got a strong enough team to have a good crack”
This year’s race has 67.2km of time trialling which will suit Geraint more so than the smaller climbers who are usually successful during May’s Grand Tour.
“What we know is that when he’s at his best he’s a great climber and he’s already a great time trialist. We know that the biggest challenge will be the third week but that’s the same for everyone,” admitted Kerrison.
Kerrison also endorsed Brailsford
Sky have endured turmoil in the off season and their star rider Froome even went as far as refusing to back Brailsford, but Kerrison did come to the defence of the team principal.
“I’ve never had any reason to not believe in his leadership at the team," said Kerrison.
Kerrison continued by saying: "He’s a great leader and he’s been a great leader of our team. He will continue to be, for sure.”
Another Tour-Vuelta attempt for Froome
Since 2012 Kerrison has coached Sky’s best riders to unprecedented success and earned the reputation as the best coach in the sport. Kerrison is firm in his belief that the Kenya born Brit can succeed in doing the historic double. The Vuelta Espana comes a month after tour de France and Froome is yet to get the best out of this period of training.
“With Chris, what we’ve never got quite right is the period between the Tour and the Vuelta. We sort of know what we need to do but it’s actually doing it that’s another matter,” he said.
“With the Olympics last year it was tough. The first year he did the double was in 2012 and we had London then. In 2013 he didn’t do it," said Kerrison.
“We’ve mapped out what we want to do in that four-week period with a block of recovery, maybe some crits but making sure he’s recovered from the Tour. Then we’ll go to altitude for a bit to do some training,” concluded Kerrison.
Whether Froome manages the double or not, it looks set to be another good year on the road for Sky. Many wouldn’t be surprised to see him improve and finally win the race where he first broke on the world scene.