Thomas can have big say in Vuelta, says Contador

cycling24 August 2023 16:25| © Reuters
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Geraint Thomas © Getty Images

Veteran Geraint Thomas can have a big say in this year's Vuelta a Espana although the 37-year-old, like everyone else, will need to find a way to stop the Jumbo Visma train, according to Spanish former winner Alberto Contador.

Thomas, the leader for British team Ineos Grenadiers, came agonisingly close to winning his second Grand Tour when he led the Giro d'Italia on the penultimate stage but was overhauled in the time trial by Primoz Roglic.

The Welshman did not ride the Tour de France and has targeted the red jersey in Spain with the race getting under way in Barcelona on Saturday.

"He has a chance, that's for sure," Contador, who won his home race three times, told Eurosport for whom he will be working as an expert during this year's edition.

"Maybe, as he's 37 years old, we don't think of him as 26, with all the possibilities he has, but he's a very solid rider.

"Last year he finished third in the Tour de France behind two beasts like Vingegaard and Pogacar and, this year, in the only major Vuelta he has participated in, he finished second just a few seconds behind Primoz Roglic in the Giro d'Italia.

"He clearly has something to say in this Vuelta a España."

Contador picks out reigning champion Remco Evenepoel as one of the big favourites but says Denmark's Jonas Vingegaard and Slovenian Roglic, Jumbo Visma's joint leaders, present a formidable barrier for the rest of the peloton.

"I think it's a question of seeing how the race progresses, but the men who are the leaders of Jumbo Visma, with the reliability they have, and for the team they have around them, it's difficult to find a weak point," Contador said.

Thomas will have a strong unit around him in only his second Vuelta with fellow former Tour de France winner Egan Bernal, Laurens De Plus, Thymen Arensman and Jonathan Castroviejo all in the line-up, while Italian powerhouse Filippo Ganna will target the time trial.

"I'm going to get stuck into it. We've got a great group together for going into it, on and off the bike, and we'll just see what we can do," Thomas told GCN.

"I want the best result possible, of course, but I'm not stressing about it. The podium would be nice, but I'd want to get a win. That's what you do it for, isn't it?

"Even if it's getting a stage."