Britain’s 2018 Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas tuned up for next month’s race with overall victory in the Tour of Switzerland after Sunday’s eighth and final stage.
The 36-year-old Welshman sealed victory after the 25.6 km time-trial in Liechtenstein, won by Belgian rider Remco Evenepoel of Quick-Step.
Thomas, an individual time-trial specialist, finished second three seconds behind the winner to snatch victory from Colombian Sergio Higuita who had started the day wearing the leader’s yellow jersey.
“It’s super nice obviously to win here. I hadn’t been back here since 2015,” said Thomas who finished second in the race seven years ago.
“I lost the jersey by a few seconds, so it’s nice to come back to this race and win it.
“It’s kind of revenge. It was a difficult race. You had to be consistent all week. So I’m really very satisfied.
“We lost Adam Yates at the start of the week. I had to take the reins of the team. It is a great satisfaction for me.”
The race was hit by a swathe of Covid-19 cases with around 40 riders pulling out after positive tests, and 79 starting the final stage.
And a few hours before the start of the final stage, star sprinter Peter Sagan pulled out with Covid-19.
Russian Aleksandr Vlasov of Bora-Hansgrohe pulled out on Friday while wearing the leader’s jersey.
The day before, it was Yates and the entire Jumbo-Visma team who had been forced to give up.
A total of four complete teams — Bahrain, Alpecin, UAE and Jumbo — had to leave the race after positive tests.
This race, however, allowed certain teams and leading riders spared by the pandemic to fine-tune the settings a few weeks before the Tour de France.
This was the case of Thomas, Evenepoel or Fuglsang.
“It’s been a difficult week for me, with ups and downs,” said Evenepoel.
“But the last few days I’ve felt good. I’ve regained my form a bit.
“We made a few management mistakes (of the race) during this week which somewhat hit the general ambitions. But I had decided in my head to go ahead and concentrate on the time trial.
“That’s what we did today, because we thought that I was able to win it. But I was no longer sure of myself when I saw Geraint in the last corner. Finally, I was able to maintain a few seconds advantage.
“It’s good to finish this Tour of Switzerland with this victory.”