Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas set to sign new deal with Team Sky

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Geraint Thomas during a celebratory homecoming event in Cardiff on Thursday

Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas says he is on the verge of signing a new deal at Team Sky.

Thomas, whose Team Sky contract is about to expire, revealed he had been courted by rival teams after winning Le Tour last month.

But the 32-year-old, back in his hometown Cardiff where thousands turned out to celebrate his Tour de France success, said: “I’ve made my mind up (about staying) in my head really and just need to get it done officially.

“It’s nice to have some good offers but hopefully it will be done in the coming days.”

New team CCC WorldTour revealed on Wednesday that they had launched a bid to sign Thomas for 2019.

The Polish outfit is the result of a merger between CCC Sprandi Polkowice and BMC Racing, and sports director Piotr Wadecki announced their intentions to build their Tour de France team around Thomas.

“There’s obviously a lot of good teams out there,” Thomas said.

“I respect them and I wanted to hear what they had to say.

“But I’m happy in the team I’m at and it works for me.

“I feel a real part of it. I grew up in the system and known them all since I was 17.”

Thomas took over the mantle of Team Sky’s lead rider at the 2018 Tour de France after proving stronger than fellow Briton Chris Froome.

Four-time Le Tour winner Froome ended up in the role of support rider, finishing third as Thomas became the first Welshman to win cycling’s greatest prize.

“I think the way we rode this year was the right way to go about it,” Thomas said.

“We’re both honest and open with each other, we’re good mates and that hasn’t changed.

“I think it can work again if the roles were reversed next year.

“Obviously I would be disappointed as Froomey was because you want to win. But then again if Froomey is stronger then you do your bit.

“It was obviously a great month for me, but the surprising thing was being able to do it day in and day out, and not feel under pressure that I was going to lose the race.”

Thousands gathered outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay and at Cardiff Castle to celebrate Thomas’ success, the winner of the prized yellow jersey completing the final few hundred yards of his journey in the city centre on his bicycle.

“You dream about winning races and holding your arms up in the air, but you never think about what happens after that,” Thomas said.

“We were down at the Senedd, and you think ‘this is where everyone has come and there will be no-one at the Castle’.

“But then I had this at the Castle as well, and to see the pride and passion of people is mad.

“It’s hard getting your head around it that this is all for me.”

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Team Sky's Gianni Moscon suspended for five weeks after expulsion from Tour de France

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Gianni Moscon has been suspended for five weeks by cycling’s world governing body for his expulsion from the Tour de France – but the controversial Italian has earned a reprieve from Team Sky.

Moscon was disqualified from the race for punching Fortuneo-Samsic rider Elie Gesbert early on Stage 15 to Carcassonne on July 22.

The UCI announced on Wednesday that the 24-year-old Italian has been banned until September 12.

Team Sky responded, with Moscon publicly apologising and team principal Sir Dave Brailsford sticking by Moscon.

Brailsford said on teamsky.com: “We have a duty of care to all our riders which we take extremely seriously. Gianni is still a relatively young rider at the start of his career and we will continue to give him the help and support he needs to learn, develop and move forward from this.”

The incident, 800 metres into the stage, was just the latest in a long line of disciplinary missteps from Moscon, who was suspended for six weeks last year after racially abusing fellow rider Kevin Reza.

Brailsford said, during the Tour, he would consider if Moscon should face further punishment after the race, which was won by Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas.

Moscon (l) was suspended for six weeks last year after racially abusing fellow rider Kevin Reza.

Moscon (l) was suspended for six weeks last year after racially abusing fellow rider Kevin Reza.

When asked directly, Brailsford would not rule out terminating Moscon’s contract, but Sky have now stopped short of that action.

The UCI on Wednesday said its disciplinary commission had disqualified Moscon from the Tour and suspended him for five weeks.

Moscon said on teamsky.com: “I accept the suspension given to me by the UCI.

“I reacted in the heat of the moment and it was never my intention to hit the rider.

“As the footage shows I didn’t make contact, but I regret my actions and I have already apologised to both Elie Gesbert and Team Fortuneo-Samsic for the incident.”

Brailsford added: “We accept the UCI’s decision to suspend Gianni for a five-week period.

“This incident obviously happened during one of the most challenging races the team has ever faced. We are confident that Gianni truly regrets his actions and has learnt from this episode.”

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Fabio Aru can “start over” at Tour de Pologne as he looks to put Giro d'Italia nightmare behind him

Matt Jones 4/08/2018
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Fabio Aru (2nd r) endured a difficult 2018 Giro d'Italia.

Fabio Aru claims the Tour de Pologne gives him a chance to “start over” as he looks to put a nightmare first half of the season with UAE Team Emirates behind him.

Aru, 28, is in his maiden 12 months with the team but disaster struck at May’s Giro d’Italia, where he was forced to abandon the race.

It was subsequently decided that he would not feature at the Tour de France nor defend his Italian national road race title in the aftermath of what had been a difficult start to life after leaving Astana.

Aru attended a decisive meeting with the UAE Team Emirates management in the wake of the Giro – where he won the young rider classification on his way to second place overall in 2015, having come third at his home race the previous year.

Aru returned at the recent Tour de Wallonie where he finished 10th and is now in Poland as he looks to put another good performance together in the hope of salvaging his season at the Vuelta a Espana – where he was champion three years ago.

“After the problems I had at the Giro d’Italia, I stayed away from competition for about two months,” revealed Aru, with medical tests and a review of the Italian’s training after the Giro showing he suffers from a gluten and dairy product intolerance.

Fabio Aru is in his first season with UAE Team Emirates.

Fabio Aru is in his first season with UAE Team Emirates.

Aru also admitted that he spent far too long training at altitude, pushing himself deeper than his body wanted.

“I got back into the game with the Tour de Wallonie where I felt good. Now the Tour de Pologne will be an important test. The last times I’ve participated I’ve always had a nice time in Poland. From a technical level the routes are good and the crowds are always exceptional.

“The Tour de Pologne was already on my schedule in the beginning of the season and now it will be an essential step on the way to the Vuelta a Espana and even consideration in the World Championships.

“It is definitely a race from which to start over and face the end of the season on the right foot.”

The Italian champion last rode in the race in that successful 2015, achieving a fifth-place finish.

This year, the UCI WorldTour stage race forms part of Aru’s preparation for the Vuelta, beginning on August 25, and features favourable hills for the skilled climber.

Joining Aru on the tour, which started on Saturday, are Italian team-mates Valerio Conti, Edward Ravasi and Simone Consonni, alongside former world champion Rui Costa, Sven Erik Bystrom and Polish rider Przemyslaw Niemiec.

The team will be guided by an Italian duo of sports directors, Daniele Righi and Mario Scirea.

“I will arrive in Poland having regained a good racing rhythm in the Tour de Wallonie,” added Aru.

“The route for the Tour of Poland is well suited to my skills and could help me find an even better pedal stroke. There are four climbing fractions; it would be nice for the team and for me to manage to obtain some significant results.

“The team line-up features some excellent climbers, so we can aim for some satisfying achievements. This is also an important event in consideration of the Vuelta; it is a crucial step in preparing for the Spanish race.”

As it reaches its landmark 90th edition, the 2018 Tour de Pologne is sticking to a tried and tested formula of punchy uphill stages that go deep into the country’s southern mountains to decide the seven-day race.

The 1,075km event is a long one. With no individual or team time trial and where the crunch stages are often decided in short, uphill finishes, the Tour of Poland is set to be even more unpredictable and exciting than ever before.

It is a race of two halves, with bunch sprint finishes expected in the initial three stages and the GC battle to be contested in the later mountain segments.

The first two stages go through the city of Krakow, and then from Tarnowskie Gory to Katowice, which are very similar to last year and include the iconic 900m descent to the finish line.

The second half of the race heads into the central part of the Carpathian mountains and will culminate in fiercely fought duels on the punchy ramps around the mountain towns of Zakopane and Bukowina.

The last day’s racing is going to be challenging, featuring an on-going series of short, steep ascents on technical country roads across a 66km circuit.

It finishes in a brutal hill-top finish at Bukowina Tatrzanska, where thousands of local cycling fans are likely to line the route and keep the atmosphere charged until the race ends.

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