The Welshman will be taking on Tadej Pogačar at both races as the pair aim to become the first rider to do the Giro-Tour double since Marco Pantani in 1998.
For Thomas, who narrowly missed out on Giro victory on the penultimate day to Primož Roglič, seeing Pogačar announce his participation in the race certainly complicates his own chances of bringing home the maglia rosa.
However, he told La Gazzetta dello Sport that it will be exciting just to compete against Pogačar in Italy, win or lose.
“It’s Pogačar and I would have preferred him not to come, but at the same time having him is fantastic,” he said. “His taking part changes the race and his team will carry the weight of the race, but in the years to come he’ll leave a huge legacy as one of the greatest ever.
“He’s incredible, so just to be competitive with him and fight for the same thing is exciting.”
Both riders are taking on a new challenge in 2024 as they aim to be at their best at the Giro and Tour.
Only six riders have achieved the feat of winning both – Fausto Coppi (twice), Jacques Anquetil (once), Eddy Merckx (twice), Bernard Hinault (twice) and Miguel Indurain (twice) – while Alberto Contador (winner and fifth in 2015), Chris Froome (winner and third in 2018) and Tom Dumoulin (second at both in 2018) have come closest in recent history.
Thomas called it a “huge challenge” for him to stay at peak form for both races, with 34 days separating the two races this season.
“It’s simply a huge challenge to be at my best for so long, and I’ve never done it before, but I like these new things,” Thomas said. “They’re the things that give meaning to your being as a rider.
“For me, it will take a lot of mental commitment as well as physical. It’s something that excites me. It scares me too, but it’s a good thing. It’s my 19th year as a pro, so it’s nice to mix things up a bit and that will keep me focussed.”
Depending on his form in France, Thomas could find himself riding for GC – Pogačar will be battling Roglič, Remco Evenepoel, and Jonas Vingegaard there – or supporting Ineos Grenadiers’ younger GC hopes, Carlos Rodríguez and Tom Pidcock.
“I thought, ‘What do I have to lose?’ I’ll go to the Giro, get the best result there, then go to the Tour in the best possible shape,” he said. “If it means racing for myself or…