Geraint Thomas winning the famous yellow jersey as the champion of Tour de France 2018 has put a spoke in Team Sky’s game plan.
Thomas was a worthy winner of the marathon race, but was expected to play a bit part to four times Tour de France champion Chris Froome collecting his latest title on the podium in Paris.
Instead, Froome has faced months of unsettling rows over alleged drug abuse that culminated in an early crash that lost him vital minutes he never quite caught up with in this year’s race.
Although he nobly applauded team mate Thomas for his accomplishment, Team Sky has a dilemma for next year.
Froome will be a year older with time running out to win his fifth championship to join legends Bernard Hinault, Eddy Mercx and Miguel Indurain, who all won five titles.
Waiting in the wings
But Geraint Thomas is not keen to wait in the wings as a champion himself.
Thomas wants to go for more titles and if that means ruffling Froome’s feathers, then so be it.
Plenty of rival teams are ready to poach the Welshman from Team Sky.
But team manager Dave Brailsford wants to encourage both his cycling champions to stay.
“I am pretty positive this is the best team for Geraint,” he said.
“It’s not unusual that these guys win something big and it puts them in a different place to when they started out.
“With the contract negotiations we will sit down and thrash it all out.
“We’re team that wants him, a team where he has been very successful, one where it knows the staff.
“Like anyone he is entitled to listen to other options, but I’d like to think we will get it all sorted out.”
Respect on the road
Despite the talk of rivalry, Thomas and Froome deny there is a rift between them.
Both say they will help any other team member who is ahead of them and has a chance of winning.
“The great thing about Geraint and Chris, the amount of experience is incredible, and they know how the sport works inside out,” said Brailsford.
“They have been put in most situations you can imagine so they get it, and the key components when two guys are going for the same race you have to have are trust, openness and honesty.
“If you have those three things there and there is a respect between the riders it will figure itself out on the road.”