Geraint Thomas primed for Monmouth

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First published in Sport

DOUBLE Olympic Games gold medalist Geraint Thomas is ready to claim a British Cycling National Road and Time Trial Championships jersey this month - and wear it with pride a week later on the Tour de France.

Cardiff-born Thomas, 27, is among a star-studded entry for both the Time Trial and Road Race competitions at this year's Championships, being staged around Monmouthshire, and has been tipped by British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton as a winner in or, the other - or both!

The Team Sky rider won the Nationals in 2010 and wore his red, white and blue jersey around Le Tour that year and at every race for the next twelve months.

Now, Thomas, who was second to Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2011, wants another domestic title.

Taking said that having the jersey: "Definitely gives you a boost in that you are representing Britain on the Tour (de France).

"To have the Nationals in Wales and on our own roads gives me extra motivation. It is also a bonus that it is just up the road from my home. If it was in Scotland or something and only a week from the Tour, then it starts to get a bit much to do.

"So it is nice not to be too stressed about it and have two good hit-outs before the Tour. I will be riding both the Time Trial and Road Race because I want to do a bit of work on my time trialing anyway and this course is technical as well as up and down."

Thomas, who won track cycling gold in the Team Pursuit at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic Games, said: "In Team Sky, we would, obviously, want one of our guys to win it to the extent that I would not work with someone like Cav (defending champion Mark Cavendish) to chase down a team-mate if they were away.

"But if the race is the same as when I won it, it will be every man for himself. You have to be in the race from the start because it is not like a normal pro race in which you wait until the end for it to go faster and faster.

"The Nationals start fast - and keep going! Once you are in the front (of the lead group), it is easier to control your race because you don't want to be playing 'catch-up' all the time. You have to keep on the pedals all the time - then it is all out at the end."

History man Sir Bradley Wiggins, the first British rider to win cycling's most famous stage race, the Tour de France, will be riding in both the National Time Trial and Road Race Championships.

He will go head-to-head against Alex Dowsett in the Time Trial on Thursday June 26, a mouth-watering clash between London Olympic Games champion Wiggins and the winner of the last three National TT titles, with the Elite Women - including every top rider in the country - and the cream of Britain's Under-23 stars also riding in their respective Time Trials and Road Races.

Wiggins, Thomas, Dowsett and many other Olympic and world stars will challenge Cavendish for the prestigious Elite Men's National Road Race title on Sunday June 29.

'Manx Missile' Cavendish is, of course, the sprint king of world cycling, having taken an incredible 25 Tour de France stage wins, four of them in successive years up to 2012.

But the Nationals Road Race course around Monmouthshire, even without the famous Tumble Mountain climb, is a tough challenge with some long, slow hills to grind up.

Would this be too much for Cavendish to successfully defend his title? Thomas thinks he will be ok. "I think the course will suit him. It will be a long day, as it always is in the Nationals, but there are more lumps in the Tour and I don't think it is beyond him at all."

And the Welsh ace is going to give his all to win a National jersey. Asked who he fancies to win it, Thomas smiled: "Me, hopefully!"

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