Mark Cavendish’s retirement announcement on the Giro d’Italia rest day lead to Geraint Thomas reflecting on their entwined career paths and his own retirement plans but the Welshman stayed focused and ambitious as the decisive final week of the 2023 Giro d’Italia loomed large on the horizon.
Thomas could see the Italian mountains from his resort day hotel between Brescia and Lake Garda. He and his Ineos Grenadiers teammates did a two-hour, rest day ride but included some efforts to keep their legs activated and ready for Tuesday’s mountain stage and summit finish on Monte Bondone.
Cavendish celebrated his 38th birthday at the Giro on Sunday and Thomas will turn 37 on Thursday. He is hoping for a birthday stage win and a time gain rather than a cake and candles.
“It’s strange to see Mark retire because it means I’m going to be retiring soon as well. You think you’re always going to keep racing your bike but you’re not,” Thomas reflected.
“Cav is the greatest sprinter of all time when you see his results. I was there when he won the worlds and we raced as Juniors and U23 all over the world together and have a lot of memories. It’s been an honour to ride with him and to be mates with him for 25 years. Now he’s got to get that record at the Tour and win a stage here at the Giro.”
Thomas has been considering his own future for several months. He wants to race on in 2024 and stay at Ineos Grenadiers but knows his final days will eventually come.
“I like the idea of an exit strategy…” he said when asked of his plans and Cavendish’s announcement.
“As I said before the Giro, I want to concentrate on this race. Talk has started about extending with this team but I’m going to cross that bridge in the couple of weeks after this race hopefully.”
Thomas is wise to wait until after the Giro d’Italia. Overall victory in the Cosa Rosa would sit with his 2018 Tour de France victory, embellish his career and also boost his final salary.
Giro waiting game
After two weeks and 15 stages of the Giro d’Italia, Thomas is 1:08 down on Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), to whom he conceded the maglia rosa on stage 14, but leads Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) by two seconds and João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), by 22 seconds.
The closeness of the GC battle has left the race in stalemate, annoying or boring some fans and observers but Thomas asks for understanding, giving a racing and potential winner’s perspective.
“I’ve been disappointed…
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