Geraint Thomas has no intentions of following Mark Cavendish by riding off into retirement any time soon as he targets Giro d’Italia success and finalising a contract extension at Ineos Grenadiers.

Welshman Thomas admits he did not quite believe his friend Cavendish would go through with his plans when he told him in confidence ahead of this year’s Giro.

Thomas, who played a key role when Cavendish won the world road race championship in 2011, hailed the Manxman as the “greatest sprinter of all time” and hopes he goes on to break the record for Tour de France stage wins later this summer.

Having previously hinted 2023 might be his final season as a professional cyclist, Thomas – who turns 37 on Thursday – remains fully focused on the challenges ahead.

“I said before the start of this tour that I just want to concentrate on the race,” Thomas told a media call during Monday’s Giro rest day.

“Talk has started with this team about extending (my contract), but I am going to cross that bridge in a couple of weeks after this race hopefully.”

Thomas, who won the 2018 Tour de France, has raced alongside Cavendish in the British Cycling set-up as well as for one season at Team Sky.

“He is the greatest sprinter of all time when you see his record and it has been an honour to ride with him,” said Thomas.

“Mark told me at the start of the Giro. I didn’t really believe him. I kind of thought he would keep going.

“He has had an incredible career. He is still racing, though, and has got to get the record at the Tour (de France) and hopefully win a stage here.”

Thomas surrendered the pink jersey to Bruno Armirail on stage 14, and heads into Tuesday’s 203-kilometre mountain course from Sabbio Chiese to Monte Bondone just over a minute off the pace and only two seconds ahead of favourite Primoz Roglic.

Thomas, though, will not take any unnecessary risks as he plots a successful path towards Rome.

“I certainly want to race, but I don’t want to just attack for the entertainment and then blow myself up and somebody else profit from it,” the Welshman said.

“We have got three mountain-top road stages and a super hard TT (time trial), so people have to try.

“We (Ineos) are obviously not leading the race because I am second, but when you look at the GC guys on top of the tree, you would say the onus is on other guys to try and gain some time back.

“But we have got our way of how we want to race and what we are thinking and hopefully that can come off.”

Thomas added: “I don’t think any of us will feel too comfortable with the situation at the moment – between me and Primoz there is only two seconds and anything can happen.

“You know for sure he is going to try to gain time and me as well, same with Joao (Almeida).

“The next three mountain stages will be interesting because we are all going to look to see if we can try to get something over the others.”

Lizzie Deignan believes the standard of professional cycling is getting “harder and harder” as she continues to make her return to the sport.

The 34-year-old is set to compete in the three-day Ford RideLondon Classique later this week, her first UK race since October 2021.

RideLondon begins on Friday and has two stages in Essex before Sunday’s finale in central London, which includes a finish down the Mall.

Speaking about her return to competitive action this year after giving birth to her second child last September, Deignan believes the performance levels in cycling are continuing to improve.

“I think on both the men’s and women’s side, professional cycling it’s getting harder and harder,” Deignan told a press conference.

“Everybody is pushing their limits and the performance levels are getting stronger in women’s cycling particularly, the changes, the investment that we’ve seen means the peloton, the level of performance, is deeper.

“It’s harder for breakaways to go on climbs, the break takes longer to go, it’s just simply harder than it’s ever been before – which is great!”

Seven months after giving birth to son Shea, the Olympic silver medallist and former World Road Race champion made an earlier-than-expected return to racing in April.

Injury and illness among her Trek-Segafredo team-mates saw her line up at La Fleche Wallonne last month before going on to compete in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Deignan has since taken part in La Vuelta Femenina, making the upcoming RideLondon race her fourth competition of the year, and she says she is settling back into dealing with the demands of racing.

“Personally, my form I learned again for the second time that you can be flying in training, you can be as fit as you want, but it’s no replication for racing,” said Deignan, who gave birth to daughter Orla in September 2018.

“You simply can’t suffer as much you need to or accelerate as many times as you need to, there’s no replacement for racing.

“I’m really happy that the finesse and race rhythm has come back really quickly so I’m excited to do RideLondon.

“Even in the last week I feel like I’ve taken another step forward in my performance so I’m really excited about it.”

Mark Cavendish will retire from professional cycling at the end of the current season.

Cavendish, who celebrated his 38th birthday on Sunday, made the announcement at a press conference on the rest day of this year’s Giro D’Italia.

The Manxman boasts 53 Grand Tour stage victories and a world title, and is still set to compete at the Tour de France in July, where he could break the record of 34 stage wins he currently shares with Eddy Merckx.

Cavendish said: “I’ve absolutely loved racing every kilometre of this race so far, so I feel it’s the perfect time to say it’s my final Giro d’Italia and 2023 will be my final season as a professional cyclist.

“Yesterday I celebrated my 38th birthday. Like many others I’ve been struggling with sickness during the race as well as the effects of some unfortunate crashes. To get me through, I can’t thank this group of friends enough.

“Cycling has been my life for over 25 years. I have lived an absolute dream and the bike has given me the opportunity to see the world and meet some incredible people.

“It’s taught me so much about life – dedication, loyalty, companionship, teamwork, sacrifice, humility and perseverance – all things that now, as a father, I can show my children.”

British Cycling performance director Stephen Park paid tribute to Cavendish, saying in a statement: “On behalf of British Cycling, I would like to congratulate Mark on a truly outstanding career.

“Cav is without doubt the sport’s greatest sprinter and will be remembered by fans across the world for his 53 Grand Tour stage wins, and I’m sure that we will all be cheering him on as he looks to add to that total in his final months of racing.”

Cavendish won his first world title in the Madison in 2005 in Los Angeles, and within three years had claimed four Tour de France stage wins, as well as two at the Giro d’Italia, to become Britain’s leading Grand Tour cyclist at the age of just 22.

As well as his Grand Tour exploits, Cavendish won a silver medal in the omnium at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and gold in the scratch race at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, representing the Isle of Man.

Park added: “Professional and passionate, Cav has been a real asset to our team over the years and will be remembered as both a peerless rider and a fantastic teammate with time for everyone.

“We wish him the very best of luck both for the rest of his final season in the peloton and in the next stage of his career.”

Mark Cavendish piled up 161 victories on the road to go with world titles on the track over the course of his illustrious career.

His 34 career Tour de France stage wins are equalled only by Eddy Merckx, while his 53 Grand Tour stage victories put him third in the all-time standings.

Here the PA news agency takes a look at some of his career highlights.


Won the first of his Madison world titles on the track, partnering Rob Hayles after replacing the injured Geraint Thomas.


Took gold in the scratch race at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

Moved up to what is now the WorldTour level on the road and took a breakthrough victory at Scheldeprijs.

Finished the season with 11 victories, equalling Alessandro Petacchi’s record for a debut campaign.


Took a second Madison world title, this time with Bradley Wiggins, in Manchester.


Won four stages of the Tour de France and two stages of the Giro d’Italia

Became the second Briton to win a Monument with victory in Milan-Sanremo

Won six stages of the Tour, and wore the leader’s jersey for two days at the Giro after taking four stages.

Won five stages of the Tour.

Wore the leader’s red jersey for two stages of the Vuelta a Espana and won the points classification after taking four stages.


Became the second British road race world champion after Tom Simpson with victory in Copenhagen


Won five stages of the Tour de France along with the points classification. Wore the leader’s jersey at the Giro and won three stages.

Won three Tour stages, and three stages of the Giro, wearing the leader’s pink jersey for three days.

Won two Tour stage and five Giro stages, wearing the leader’s pink jersey for one day.

Became British national champion.

Won one stage of the Tour.


Won four stages of the Tour, wearing the leader’s yellow jersey for the first time after the opening stage and completing his set of wearing the leader’s jersey in all three grand tours.


Became Madison world champion for the third time, winning with Wiggins in London.

Won his first Olympic medal with silver in the omnium.

Tasted victory for the first time in more than three years when he headed a bunch sprint across the line at the Tour of Turkey, the first of four stage wins at the race.

Followed up by winning the final stage of the Belgium Tour, before matching the Tour de France stage wins record when collecting the 34th of his career in Carcassonne on July 9.

Won his 16th Giro d’Italia stage when he sprinted to victory on stage three in Hungary.

Added a second British road title to his career with success in Scotland in June.

Brandon McNulty won stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia while Bruno Armirail retained the Maglia Rosa.

The UAE Team Emirates rider won in thrilling circumstances to secure his first victory at the Giro following a three-man sprint in the final kilometre of the race.

The climax of the the 195-kilometre long Seregno-Bergamo meant McNulty edged out Ben Healy and Marco Frigo, who finished second and third respectively.

McNulty said afterwards: “I’m stoked. This was my goal coming here. I wanted a stage win but I got sick in the time trial.

“I wanted to finish solo but luckily I managed to win, even in a sprint.

“I knew the third guy was coming across. Let’s hope this win adds to the team’s motivation on GC with Joao Almeida.”

Sunday’s result means Geraint Thomas still trails Armirail in the general classification by just one minute and eight seconds.

The French Groupama rider keeps the lead going into Monday’s rest day and admitted it had been a difficult challenge to retain the jersey.

Armirail said: “It’s been difficult to retain the Maglia Rosa.

“It was a hard stage with a lot of climbing and there was Einer Rubio at the front. He was likely to take the jersey so my team-mates had to pace all along.

“Yesterday I didn’t realise what it was to take the Maglia Rosa but today with the incredible support of the crowd I’ve found out what it’s like.

“It’s huge and I’m delighted to stay in the lead on the rest day.”

Einer Rubio won stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia as Geraint Thomas retained the Maglia Rosa on a rain-interrupted day which saw the race shortened.

Movistar rider Rubio won the 74.6-kilometre stage in two hours 16 minutes and 21 seconds.

Thibaut Pinot and Jefferson Alexander Cepeda finished second and third respectively.

Rubio said: “A big day that I was looking for by working very hard. It’s been difficult with the bad weather. But I had to keep going.

“I knew that Pinot was very strong. I had to finish with him and play it well tactically. It will take time for me to realise that I won a stage of the Giro d’Italia. I didn’t believe I’d do it.”

The stage started under heavy rain at Borgofranco d’Ivrea but organisers were forced to re-route some of it, with riders retreating to their team buses due to the conditions.

Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) retains the overall lead ahead of Primoz Roglic and Joao Almeida.

Thomas said: “We stayed calm when a small group went in the first climb. We stayed in control with Ben Swift and Pavel Sivakov setting the pace. Great ride by them. The way it went at the end made it quite hard to attack.

“But Primoz is probably happy to leave me in the Maglia Rosa for a few more days. I expect something more from him next week.”

Germany’s Nico Denz won stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia in Rivoli after outsprinting Latvia’s Toms Skujins to the finish line as Geraint Thomas remained as overall leader.

Denz had too much power for his rival at the end of the mainly flat 185-kilometre stage, which started in Bra, after the pair formed part of a five-man breakaway with 92km to go.

BORA-hansgrohe rider Denz, Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) and Australia’s Sebastian Berwick, who finished third, had pulled clear of the leading group, together with Italy’s Alessandro Tonelli (Green Project Bardiani).

Tonelli fell away with 32km to go but held on to finish fourth, while Giro leader Thomas came home safely in the peloton to maintain his two-second lead over Primoz Roglic in the general classification.

Denz said after his first Grand Tour stage win: “It’s really big for me. I’m super proud. I was not supposed to be in the break. It was up to Patrick Konrad and Bob Jungels.

“But Bob said he wasn’t at his best and he preferred to save energy to help Lennard Kamna (on Friday) so I had to replace him at the front.

“When I looked around me in the breakaway there were only monsters. Cooperation in the breakaway was very bad, then I found myself at the front on the last climb. Then I knew the finale. I had it in my mind. So I could sprint the way I wanted.”

Thomas took the leaders’ pink jersey after the withdrawal of race leader Remco Evenepoel due to a positive Covid-19 test on Sunday.

The Ineos Grenadiers rider made no bid to impact on the breakaway group, which did not include any general classification contenders, and was grateful for the support of his team-mates.

Thomas said: “Obviously Pavel Sivakov rode very well today despite his crash yesterday.

“He’s definitely in a good shape. Hopefully it’s all good tomorrow in Switzerland and I can defend the Maglia Rosa the same way I won the Tour de Suisse before.”

British rider Tao Geoghegan Hart suffered a hip fracture and will need surgery after being involved in a crash during stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia.

The Ineos Grenadiers racer, the 2020 champion, was involved in a multi-bike accident in wet conditions on a downhill descent with around 70km of the race’s longest leg remaining.

Geoghegan Hart, who sat third in the overall standings, was pictured being loaded into an ambulance after receiving roadside treatment.

After being taken to hospital for more examinations, the Ineos Grenadiers team confirmed Geoghegan Hart was set for an extended spell of recovery.

“Immediately following his involvement in a crash during today’s Stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia, Tao Geoghegan Hart was transported to a local hospital in Genoa,” an Ineos Grenadiers statement said.

“After further assessment, imaging confirmed that Tao had sustained a fracture of the left hip which will require surgery.

“Tao, the thoughts and best wishes of all your fellow Grenadiers are with you tonight. We wish you a speedy recovery and know you have what it takes to come back even stronger!”

Team-mate and overall race leader Geraint Thomas was also involved in the incident, but was able to continue along with nearest challenger Primoz Roglic.

Thomas said after the race: “As usual we were jostling for position, a UAE guy crashed next to me. I don’t know exactly who was taken out after me.

“We were pretty much on the same spot. Unfortunately Tao is badly injured. It’s obviously a big loss.

“He was going very well. He was in a really great position and it’s very unfortunate to lose him this way.”

Thomas retained the pink jersey for overall race leader with a two-second lead over Jumbo-Visma’s Roglic.

Pascal Ackermann, riding for UAE Team Emirates, claimed the stage 11 victory after triumphing courtesy of a photo finish in Tortona, crossing the line just ahead of Jonathan Milan.

This year’s race has been beset with problems as poor weather has been accompanied by a coronavirus outbreak, which has now seen 13 riders withdraw.

Soudal Quick-Step riders Jan Hirt, Josef Cerny, Louis Vervaeke and Mattia Cattaneo were the latest to pull out on Wednesday.

Briton Tao Geoghegan Hart was taken to hospital after being “badly injured” in a crash during stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia.

The Ineos Grenadiers rider, the 2020 champion, suffered the crash in wet conditions on a downhill descent with around 70km of the race’s longest leg remaining.

Geoghegan Hart, who is third in the overall standings, was pictured being loaded into an ambulance after receiving roadside treatment.

His team said on Twitter: “We’re gutted to see @taogeoghegan forced to abandon the #Giro following a crash on stage 11.

“The Brit will head to hospital for checks and we will have further updates in due course.”

Team-mate and overall race leader Geraint Thomas was also involved in the multi-bike accident, but was able to continue along with Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic.

Thomas said after the race: “As usual we were jostling for position, a UAE guy crashed next to me. I don’t know exactly who was taken out after me.

“We were pretty much on the same spot. Unfortunately Tao is badly injured. It’s obviously a big loss. He was going very well. He was in a really great position and it’s very unfortunate to lose him this way.”

Thomas retains the pink jersey for overall race leader with a two-second lead over Roglic.

Pascal Ackermann, riding for UAE Team Emirates, claimed the stage 11 victory after triumphing courtesy of a photo finish in Tortona, crossing the line just ahead of Jonathan Milan.

This year’s race has been beset with problems as poor weather has been accompanied by a coronavirus outbreak, which has now seen 13 riders withdraw.

Soudal Quick-Step riders Jan Hirt, Josef Cerny, Louis Vervaeke and Mattia Cattaneo were the latest to pull out on Wednesday.

Geraint Thomas has no qualms about donning the pink jersey in the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday, despite inheriting it after race leader Remco Evenepoel’s withdrawal due to Covid.

Evenepoel’s routine test on Sunday night came back positive, only a few hours after the Belgian world champion pipped Thomas by a single second in the stage nine time trial to reclaim top spot in the general classification.

There have been previous instances of riders declining to wear leader’s jerseys, most notably when Chris Froome did so for one stage of the 2015 Tour de France following the injury-enforced withdrawal of Tony Martin.

While Thomas sympathised with the circumstances of Evenepoel’s exit, the Welshman intends to be in pink for the 196-kilometre stage from Scandiano to Viareggio following Monday’s rest day.

“Leading the race is a massive honour, but at the same time it’s not really the way you want to take the jersey,” he said. “That’s the way it is. I’ll definitely wear it with pride.

“It’s the first time I’ve worn the pink jersey. It’s not the best way of taking it, but I think for the race it’s still a good thing to keep it in the race. I just wish Remco well and hope he’s back soon.”

Evenepoel had established a 45-second advantage over the rest of the field and Thomas initially thought his rival was joking when contacted by the Soudal Quick-Step rider before the official announcement.

Primoz Roglic, who is Thomas’ immediate challenger just two seconds adrift after the first week, last week told the Ineos Grenadiers rider he had tested positive for Covid before the Slovenian backtracked and revealed he was joking.

“(Evenepoel) messaged me before the announcement,” Thomas said. “At first, I thought, ‘Is he winding me up a bit?’ After the whole Roglic stuff. But then there was the announcement and it was a surprise.”

Evenepoel was the sixth rider to leave the race with Covid, including Thomas’ team-mate Filippo Ganna. Thomas revealed he and the rest of the team are now taking precautions in an effort to minimise the risk of catching the virus.

“We just need to try to be a lot more aware of it and go back to what we used to do with Covid in 2020 or 2021, when we were in our own little bubble and we were wearing masks in public spaces,” he said.

“As a team we’re going to go back to that strategy. If everybody in the race does the same thing then it will stop other riders going home.”

Thomas will turn 37 later this month, on the day the race reaches stage 18 of 21, and was in a relaxed mood despite a chequered history at the Giro.

His best result in four attempts is 80th place, but Thomas, who finished third in last year’s Tour de France, insisted he was through trying to prove himself.

“It would be amazing (to win),” he added. “After 2020 I kind of thought that would be it for my chances of winning the Giro (he withdrew from that race after fracturing his pelvis on stage three).

“I don’t really feel too much pressure or expectation. I’d just love to take the opportunity.

“A lot of people seem to just write me off or whatever, but I feel like I just proved all that wrong last year and this is just a bonus round now.

“When you get towards the end of your career, you realise how lucky we are just to be able to race our bikes for a living. It’s not going to last forever and I want to make the most of it.”

Jonathan Milan won stage two of the Giro d’Italia in a reduced sprint after a late crash ruled out Mark Cavendish and cost Tao Geoghegan Hart valuable time in the general classification.

This flat stage would have been one of the ones circled by Cavendish as he seeks his first win for Astana-Qazaqstan, but the Manxman hit the deck in the aftermath of a collision just under four kilometres from the line that left several riders counting the cost.

Chief among them was 2020 Giro winner Geoghegan Hart, with the Londoner held up to concede 19 seconds and fall from fourth to eighth overall, now 59 seconds behind leader Remco Evenepoel.

Amid the chaos, the 22-year-old Milan came around Kaden Groves to win comfortably from David Dekker on the seafront in San Salvo, taking his first Grand Tour stage win and doing it in his home race at the first attempt.

Evenepoel stayed safe in the pink jersey and retains his 22-second lead over Filippo Ganna at the end of the 202km stage from Teramo. Joao Almeida remains third at 29 seconds down, but Geoghegan Hart is now four seconds behind Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Geraint Thomas, who managed to avoid the trouble.

So much focus had been on a tight roundabout just before the final straight, but before that even came into view several riders went down on a narrow section of road.

Pascal Ackermann appeared to be pushed to his right and into the path of the Trek-Segafredo lead-out train with inevitable results.

Cavendish was behind the initial incident but was then struck from behind as riders struggled to slow, although his team was quick to say he was unhurt.

In his podium interview, Evenepoel was pointed in his remarks on the stage-defining incident.

“We were in front so we were out of trouble, but of course it was a pretty nasty crash,” the Soudal-QuickStep rider said. “I think I actually saw it happen and we know who we can blame for the crash but that’s racing. It wasn’t a nice move but luckily we stayed out of trouble and arrived safely.”

While the recriminations began, Bahrain-Victorious rider Milan celebrated a breakthrough moment.

“I am without words,” the Italian said. “I cannot believe it. My first Giro, the second stage. Yesterday I did a nice time trial, I was quite happy with my result and I was pushing good but I could never imagine that today a victory was coming.”

Although Cavendish was out of the running, there was one Brit in the top 10 as Jake Stewart sprinted to ninth for Groupama-FDJ.

The race continues with a 213km stage from Vasto to Melfi on Monday.

Tao Geoghegan Hart can show he is back to his best at the Giro d’Italia over the next three weeks, according to two-time former winner Alberto Contador.

Londoner Geoghegan Hart enjoyed his breakout moment at the pandemic-affected 2020 edition of the Italian Grand Tour, claiming the pink jersey on the final day by beating Jai Hindley in the decisive time trial in Milan.

Since then, the 28-year-old has endured a difficult period with illness and injury, but last month he took two stage wins and overall victory at the Tour of the Alps last month – his first general classification win since the Giro.


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Geoghegan Hart will go into the Giro as a co-leader of the Ineos Grenadiers alongside 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, 36, while the squad also includes emerging talent Thymen Arensman.

“I think that the 2020 Giro was a little bit different (because of Covid-19) but we know that Tao has an incredible talent,” Contador told the PA news agency.

“At the Tour of the Alps he was very strong. Many riders that will be at the Giro were there and he won two stages and also the GC so for sure he is a good option and Tao can come back at the top.”

But, although Geoghegan Hart is seen as a contender, the main focus going into the race is on world champion Remco Evenepoel and three-time Vuelta a Espana winner Primoz Roglic.

“Everyone expects a big battle between Remco and Roglic but there are some up riders who can shake things up like Arensman, Thomas, (Joao) Almeida, and Tao, and they can make things difficult for the two big favourites,” added Contador, part of Eurosport’s analysis team for the race.

“If those two riders make a mistake they can have their chance. I cannot give to you one name. Both are very strong in the time trials and also the climbs, but the important thing in the Giro is always to not have a bad day as you can lose many minutes.”

An imposing Giro route – which covers a total of 3,489 kilometres and includes 51,400 metres of climbing – begins with an 19.6km time trial from Fossacesia Marina to Ortona on Saturday, the first of three time trials that cover a total of 73km over the three weeks.

There are also summit finishes on the Crans Montana, Monte Bondone, Val di Zoldo and Tre Cime di Lavaredo, plus seven stages of more than 200 kilometres and four others that come within a whisker, promising a gruelling three weeks for those intending to go all the way to Rome.

“This year the Giro comes back to the old style, the traditional long stages, days with more than 5,000 metres of climbing and 11 stages close to 200 kilometres,” Contador said. “It will be very important to recover day by day because the last week is normally the hardest week.

“I think the last time trial (18.6km from Tarvisio to Monte Lussari Tudor on stage 20) will make the difference because some riders can lose everything there.”


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Contador won the Giro in 2008 and 2015, part of a career that also brought two Tour wins and three Vuelta crowns. The Spaniard was additionally stripped of the 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro title after testing positive for clenbuterol.

“For me, the Giro is my favourite race for sure,” he said. “I was there my first time in 2008, going at the last minute because of a sponsor, and three weeks later I won the Giro. The Tifosi love me and for me it is the most beautiful because you can break from the script and go on the attack.

“The Vuelta is special for me, my home race, and the Tour de France is the biggest race in the world, but my favourite is the Giro.”

:: Watch live and exclusive coverage of the Giro d’Italia on Eurosport, discovery+ and GCN+

Former Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas has no thoughts of putting his bike away as he prepares to start his 18th Grand Tour this weekend.

The 36-year-old headlines the Ineos Grenadiers squad alongside 2020 winner Tao Geoghegan Hart for the 106th Giro d’Italia which will get under way in Fossacesia on Saturday.

The 2018 Tour winner described his last set of contract negotiations with Ineos in 2021 as “hard” and, with his existing two-year deal up again at the end of this season, he faces another round of talks if he wants to keep riding. However, staying in the peloton is very much his intention.


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“I’d still like to continue,” Thomas said. “I’m still really enjoying riding my bike. Especially this year when things have been a bit stop-start, you realise how much you still enjoy it and being around the lads.

“Being around the younger lads keeps you young as well and maybe keeps you immature but I still enjoy a coffee ride and I still enjoy a six-hour ride with loads of efforts and I still enjoy racing as well.

“At the moment I’m just focusing on this race and then hopefully we can sort something after this.”

Last season Thomas finished third in the Tour de France after delivering victory in the Tour de Suisse.

But his 2023 season has been interrupted by illness and on Thursday Thomas spoke more about riding to help Geoghegan Hart than he did about pursuing his own ambitions in a race which he has targeted before only to suffer crashes in both 2017 and 2020.


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When he re-signed in 2021, Thomas said he wanted to keep winning for himself, but another contract may require him to accept more of a support role.

Asked how many Grand Tours Thomas might have left in him, Ineos deputy team principal Rod Ellingworth said it was up to the Welshman, but was clear about what that might mean.

“There’s not many that have kept up the same level of intent in their cycling as Geraint has,” Ellingworth said. “He’s 36 coming on 37 so who knows. At the end of the day, age does catch up with you and you can’t avoid that. How many (Grand Tours) he has left in him is totally up to him…

“There’s riding in a Grand Tour and competing in a Grand Tour and it is very different. The thing with Geraint is, if you go to a bike race and you want somebody to help you and be your wingman, bloody hell, I’d sign him up every day. I think he’s got a few left in him if he wants it.”


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Geoghegan Hart is back at the race where he enjoyed his breakout result with victory in the pandemic-hit 2020 edition.

Since then, the 28-year-old Londoner has endured illness and injury setbacks, but delivered a timely confident boost with two stage wins and overall victory at the Tour of the Alps in April, his first general classification win since the Giro.

Although Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic are the clear favourites going into the race, Geoghegan Hart is one to watch.

“I feel like from the back end of last year he’s started to piece it together, get a bit of rhythm and he’s got his mojo back,” Ellingworth said. “He’s really shown now he can be consistent.

“What’s changed for him is he’s gone through a journey. He’s had a lot more experience now, good and bad. Sometimes you’ve got to get your arse kicked to move on and he’s had his arse kicked and he himself has moved on.”

Nicholas Paul completed a successful weekend Sunday winning gold in the Men’s Elite Sprint at the Tissot UCI Nations Cup meet in Milton, Canada.

The 25-year-old Trinidadian, the 2022 Commonwealth Games Keirin gold medalist, out-sped Poland’s Mateusz Rudyk to take the win and 800 points on Sunday.

Australia’s Matthew Richardson finished third.

Paul and Richardson reversed positions in the Men’s Keirin on Saturday with the Australian taking gold over Maximillian Dornbach of Germany. Paul had to settle for third.


Olympics chief Thomas Bach has attacked politicians pushing for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be prevented from returning to international sport, saying their attitude is "deplorable".

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Bach launched a tirade on Thursday at the "negative reactions" to plans to allow competitors from Russia and Belarus to compete in global sporting events as neutral individual athletes.

There has been no final decision taken yet on whether those athletes can take part in next year's Olympics; however, there will be potential pathways for them to qualify for the Games, and it could yet mean there are Russians and Belarusians taking part in the Paris Games while war continues in Ukraine.

Government figures in the UK, Germany and beyond have expressed opposition to such athletes being allowed to take part, although IOC guidance on Tuesday potentially opened that door.

For those politicians there was a fierce rebuke from Bach.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Bach said: "Today the IOC executive board discussed the reactions to our recommendations issued on Tuesday.

"There we have taken note of some negative reactions by some European governments in particular. I can only reaffirm there what the Olympic movement and all the stakeholders have made very clear before: that it is deplorable to see some governments do not want to respect the majority within the Olympic movement and of all stakeholders, nor the autonomy of sport which they are praising and requesting from other countries in countless speeches, UN resolutions, EU declarations, and at every other opportunity.

"It is deplorable that these governments do not address the question of double standards with which we have been confronted in our consultations.

"We have not seen a single comment from them about their attitude towards the participation of athletes whose countries are involved in the other 70 wars and armed conflicts in the world.

"It is even more deplorable that they grossly neglect the very clear statement of the two special rapporteurs from the UN human rights council. While in other issues they are always highlighting their firm request for the respect of human rights

"Discussions and reactions from the Olympic movement are making it very clear, that these government interventions have strengthened the unity of the Olympic movement.

"All stakeholders make it very clear again: it cannot be up to the governments to decide which athletes can participate in which competition. This would be the end of world sport as we know it today.

"The Olympic movement stakeholders are very concerned about this politicisation of sport. They are very concerned about the attitude of these governments wanting to take over the participation and the decision of participation in sport events in their country or even in other countries."

Bach pointed to a letter from the presidents of the five regional groupings on national Olympic committees, representing all 206 NOCs, in which he said it was stated that "international sports competitions welcome athletes from all countries".

Asked why it was only athletes from Russia and Belarus that were being asked to compete as neutrals, rather than those from other conflicts and wars to which he referred, Bach said that was "because this was a blatant violation of the Olympic truce and happened between the Olympic Winter Games and the Paralympic Games".

That was a reference to the timing of the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

With regard to Germany and the UK, Bach said: "Both NOCs have made it very clear they do not boycott, and we will not punish athletes or an NOC for the position of their governments.

"We will always make every effort not to punish athletes for misbehaviour of their national governments."

Bach, who is German, said "a vast, vast majority of all stakeholders of the Olympic movement" supported the IOC putting in place conditions for the possible return to international competition of athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports.

He added: "I can only reaffirm the entire Olympic movement strongly stands by its values and by its mission to unite the world in a peaceful competition."

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