The British WorldTour squad have faced questions for almost a year after it was revealed that Wiggins was legally given injections of powerful corticoidsteroids on the eve of several major events between 2011 and 2013 under therapeutic use exemptions.
Wiggins, Team Sky and British Cycling are also at the centre of a UK Anti-Doping investigation over a medical package that was sent from Manchester to the Criterium du Dauphine in 2011. The contents of the package were administered to Wiggins by team doctor Richard Freeman but neither Team Sky, Wiggins or British Cycling have been able to back up their claim that the package contained the legal decongestant, Fluimucil.
Wiggins has co-operated with UKAD’s investigation but has not spoken publicly on the matter since the Autumn of last year. Thomas has previously stated that his former team leader should answer questions on the matter and at Team Sky’s Tour de France pre-race press conference he reiterated those sentiments.
When asked if he thought Wiggins had fully answered questions on the matter, Thomas said: “I don’t think he has but at the same time I was getting asked all the time and that’s what was frustrating. When it’s all to do with Freeman and him, just go and ask them, basically. I think the investigation is still ongoing but he could definitely do us all a favour and talk to some people. Then people would stop asking us.”
In the last few months Thomas has been one of the go-to guys in relation to the pressure and questions Team Sky have faced. In March Thomas was the first rider to publicly Tweet his support for boss Dave Brailsford after Cyclingnews broke the story that riders had discussed asking Brailsford to step down in light of UKAD’s investigation and a British Parliament’s Select Committee hearing that called several Team Sky and British Cycling staff – including Brailsford – to face questions.
For Thomas, the whole matter was an unwanted distraction.
“I was in Australia for a lot of it and in South Africa for training camps. I’m not one to read much online and when I’m home I’m home and I just try and switch off from everything. I had such a focus on the Giro that it was easy to just stay in that bubble and not think about that,” he said.
“I think with any business, not just sport or cycling, the head guy is going to get the flak and majority of the questions,” he said in relation to Brailsford.
“I guess that’s the way it should be. I wouldn’t want them coming to me… what do I know? Like I’ve said and Tweeted, I was happy that he stayed on with the team and I’ve got full confidence in him.”
Thomas once again defended Team Sky and British Cycling, having come through the ranks of the latter and been on the books of the former since their inception at the start of 2010.
“I’ve grown up through British Cycling and Team Sky and I know the beliefs and how things should work. I feel fortunate to have grown up through that system and not years previously. When I read stories about David Millar and what he went through I feel fortunate not to have faced all that. I’ve always had 100 per cent confidence in the team and British Cycling.”
Thomas’ role at the Tour de France will be to support team leader, Chris Froome, who is looking to win the race for a fourth time.
Thomas has finished 15th in the last two editions of the race but crashed out of contention at Giro d’Italia in May before later abandoning the race. The Italian Grand Tour was his first crack at leading a team over three weeks and while his long-term ambitions are to return to the race, he is at the Tour to support Froome.
“That’s just life and sometimes it doesn’t go the way you want,” he said. “I had that chance at the Giro but I’m just excited to be back here and to be in decent enough shape to make the team. It’s a solid team and it’s hard to get into.
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