Heading into the decisive individual time-trial on stage 20 of the 2023 Giro d'Italia with a 26 second advantage over Primoz Roglic, Thomas would've had high hopes of adding a second Grand Tour win to his palmares. Ultimately though, the Jumbo-Visma leader's incredible ride up the brutally steep Monte Lussari turned the tables on Thomas and ensured that the Maglia Rosa would be heading to Slovenia and not Wales by just 14 seconds.
Geraint Thomas closes Giro d'Italia with key leadout for Cavendish: "I thought: I'll help a friend out"
In fact, often forgotten is the fact that twelve months later, Thomas returned to the Tour de France and sacrificed his chance at back-to-back Yellow Jersey’s in order to aide teammate Egan Bernal to victory with Thomas finishing in second. His third placed finish in 2022 completed his set of podium finishes in Paris as the Welshman rode like a third-wheel of the Tadej Pogacar/Jonas Vingegaard battle.
This willingness to sacrifice his own goals for the greater good of the team is something that makes Thomas such a standout. Only really becoming a leader at the Team Sky/INEOS Grenadiers team following his Tour de France victory at the age of 32, the question of whether or not Thomas could have added to his sole Grand Tour success if he hadn’t given up the peak years of his career to helping Chris Froome is perhaps a pertinent one.
Obviously we will never know the answer to this question. Thomas was clearly quite content with his role and a palmares that includes a Tour de France win, a further three Grand Tour podiums, victories at races such as Paris-Nice, the Critérium du Dauphiné and the E3 Saxo Classic plus two Olympic gold medals on the track from 2008 and 2012 ensure that he will go down as the most successful Welsh cyclist in history and one of the greatest riders of his generation.
"To be honest: Roglic really deserves it" - Geraint Thomas classy in defeat at the Giro d'Italia
Whilst this heartbreak will have inevitably stung and will do for the foreseeable future for Thomas, who missed out on becoming the oldest Giro d'Italia winner in history, the INEOS Grenadiers leader was typically classy in his post-stage interview. "To be honest: Roglic really deserves it," the 37-year-old told Adam Blythe and Eurosport. "He was unlucky with a mechanical and still takes forty seconds on me. Chapeau to him."
Let's be honest, anytime a rider comes this close to winning a Grand Tour, not doing so is ultimately a disappointment. Nevertheless, finishing just 14 seconds off a Giro d'Italia victory at 37 years of age is just the latest in a long line of impressive performances in the career of Geraint Thomas.
The highest of highs, undoubtedly came in 2018 when Thomas made history by becoming the first Welshman to win the Tour de France. A race that included a pair of stage wins, with one being a career-defining victory atop Alpe d'Huez on stage 12. Coming into the race, Thomas had been expected to be a super domestique for Chris Froome as he had been in the previous years, helping his Team Sky teammate to victory in 2013,2015,2016 and 2017.