GERAINT Thomas is just an 18km uphill time-trial away from adding the Giro d’Italia crown to his 2018 Tour de France triumph.
The Welsh cyclist, who turned 37 the previous day, ceded three seconds to Primoz Roglic finishing fifth in today’s brutal final Tre Cime di Lavaredo mountain stage in the Dolomites.
But he still holds the maglia rosa pink jersey by 26 seconds heading into tomorrow’s decisive time-trial.
He finished second by a single second to Remco Evenepoel
in the previous time-trial before the Belgian pulled out with Covid and 16 seconds ahead of his Slovenian rival for the GC title Roglic - a three-time winner of the Tour of Spain.
Thomas - who owns the St Tewdrics wedding venue near Chepstow where he got married, and included the Blorenge ’Tumble’ as one of his top hill rides in his book ‘Mountains According to G’ - said: ““I just tried to pace it and then Roglic came past in the last 100 metres or so.
“I lost a couple of seconds on the line, but it was nice to gain some time on João (Almeida, third).
“It will be super close tomorrow. I think it’s going to be exciting to watch, horrible to do.”
After the stage he posted: “Wouldn’t say I ‘enjoyed’ it… but that final climb was pretty special. Grazie.”
Saturday’s Monte Lussari time-trial is a horrendously steep former mule track in north-eastern Italy’s Julian Alps, but Thomas - third at the Tour de France last year - will start favourite to hold his lead after beating Roglic in the previous time-trial.
In the last four Grand Tours the Welshman has completed, he has finished on the podium three times.