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Thomas: 'I would love to be Tour lead if Froome is out'

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British cyclists Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome racing at the 2017 Tour de Frace

Britain’s Geraint Thomas says he would “love” to lead Team Sky at this year’s Tour de France if four-time winner Chris Froome does not defend his title.

Thomas, 31, is riding Paris-Roubaix on Sunday to prepare for stage nine of the Tour, which features the same cobbles.

It is unclear if Froome will ride the Tour as he seeks to explain his adverse test for asthma drug salbutamol.

“I have the mindset of going to the Tour to get the best result possible,” Thomas told 5 live’s Bespoke podcast.

“What will be with the rest of it, with Froome, it’s just about trying to put that to the back of my mind.”

The Welshman reiterated his aim of being in the “best shape possible” when the Tour starts on 7 July.

“Team Sky have had a lot of success in the Tour recently, winning five of the last six, so it would be an incredible honour to lead the team,” he added.

Team Sky leader Froome has to explain to cycling’s world governing body, the UCI, how he returned double the allowed level of salbutamol in his urine during his Vuelta a Espana victory in September.

The 32-year-old is permitted to race while he presents his case and is targeting a third straight Grand Tour win at the Giro d’Italia in May before a possible bid for a fifth Tour title.

Last month UCI president David Lappartient told BBC Sport it would be a “disaster for the image of cycling” if the Briton rode the Tour before a resolution and it was reported race organisers ASO could try to prevent Froome’s participation.

Froome told BBC Sport in February he was prepared to race both the Giro and Tour even if his case remained unresolved.

‘I miss the classics’

Belgium's Greg van Avermaet hold up the cobbled trophy for winning Paris-Roubaix 2017

Paris-Roubaix, also known as ‘The Hell of the North’, is a 257km one-day race in northern France that features 29 sections of cobbles and finishes at an outdoor velodrome in Roubaix.

It is one of the five most prestigious one-day races in cycling, known as ‘the monuments’, and the third this season after last week’s Tour of Flanders, won by Niki Terpstra, and March’s Milan-San Remo, won by Vincenzo Nibali.

“It’s the type of race where anything can happen – you wouldn’t necessarily think some of the past winners were favourites going in,” said Thomas.

“It’s all to play for and we’ve got a strong team anyway so I’ll be there to help the guys out and obviously if an opportunity came along, then I would love to take it.”

Thomas added he “misses” competing regularly in the one-day cobbled classics, having performed well in those races earlier in his career.

He finished eighth and seventh respectively at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in 2014 and won E3 Harelbeke in 2015, but has subsequently focused on longer stage races, winning the week-long Paris-Nice in 2016.

“I do miss it but at the same time I want to just concentrate on the one thing – just be world class at one thing rather than having to do a bit of everything,” he said.

“There is still a lot of time to go back to the classics – I’ll have a couple more years stage racing and go back into a full-blown classics season hopefully.

Thomas said it would be a “dream” to win a Grand Tour title before returning to one-day races after the “amazing feeling” of wearing the leader’s yellow jersey for four days at last year’s Tour.

“I want to see how far I can take that – whether that’s a top-10 finish or winning one, I don’t know,” he said.

“In week-long races I’ve shown I can perform well and win them so I just need to try and see if I can do it for three weeks.”

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