There is only one obstacle between Geraint Thomas and overall victory at the 2023 Giro d’Italia, and that is the daunting and unknown mountain time trial that ends in Monte Lussari on stage 20. Leaving Primož Roglič by just 26 seconds, Thomas knows that that a stronger and more consistent performance can assure him of overall victory in Rome.
The Welshman impressed once again in a stunning Dolomite finish at Tre Cime di Lavaredo. He was able to go with Roglič as he attacked and they distanced Almeida for another 20 seconds. Thomas lost three seconds to Roglič on the last breath towards the finish line, but insisted that the result did not reflect his chances of tomorrow.
Ahead of Saturday’s 18.6km Monte Lussari mountain time trial, Thomas leads Roglič by just 26 seconds with Almedia trailing 59 seconds.
“There was a lot of climbing and the last climb was especially difficult,” Thomas explained after the stage, reviewing the day’s action.
“It was a tough and solid day, but the guys ran very well again. We expected Jumbo-Visma or UAE Team Emirates to try to make it to the stage, but that didn’t happen, so we were confident that we could make it to the stage.”
Thomas matched Roglič’s low-speed climbs and even tested his own kick on the last steep corner to the finish. However, it cost him three precious seconds.
“When I went with 400m to go, I realized after just 100m that it was a long way at altitude,” Thomas joked.
“I lost three seconds on Primož but I was happy to gain time on João. Now everything is on the line for tomorrow, it’s going to be very close.”
Thomas shrugged off a question about whether he will lose the Giro d’Italia for the three seconds he lost at the Tre Cime di Lavaredo finish line. He believes the longer, more gradual, more paced effort required for the mountain time trial is more his thing.
“The time trial will be a different effort. We did a one-minute sprint and that’s Primož’s forte. Tomorrow is a long effort, so it’s different,” said Thomas.
“The hardest part of the climb is five kilometers at 15% or something crazy. It’s a decent lead and I’d rather have it than a deficit, but it’s going to be very difficult. Primož is riding well and Almeida is great at keeping up.” so it’s not over. I’m going to have to get there as fast as I can.
“It’s an unknown effort, we hardly ever do a mountain time trial, but it’s the same for everyone. I’m going to try to accelerate all the way to the line. Hopefully I can finish it.”
Thomas has a chronological and psychological advantage over Roglič, but he has to drive perfectly on the 11km of flat roads, execute his bike change with precision and then manage his effort on the steep climb to the finish.
The riders can do a final workout on the Monte Lussari course early on Saturday morning and Thomas confirmed that he will practice his bike-changing technique with the Ineos Grenadiers mechanics.
He will start last in the pink jersey and will have time controls on Almeida and especially Roglič. Thomas never rushes towards power, preferring to listen to his body and control his effort.
“I need to focus on myself and get that climb up as fast as possible and hopefully that will win me the Giro. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it but it will be nice to see,” he predicted.
“I also have to stay strong mentally because if I don’t have time, I have to follow my pace which will get me to the finish line as fast as possible. Time trials are a great mental game and especially this one.”
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