• Peter Kennaugh (Sky) has big goals for the future (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Peter Kennaugh has backed Geraint Thomas ahead of the Welshman’s career first Grand Tour title bid at the Giro d’Italia.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
4 Apr 2017 - 9:28 AM  UPDATED 4 Apr 2017 - 3:31 PM

Kennaugh is on a short-list of 12 riders to support Thomas and Sky co-captain Mikel Landa at the 100th edition of the race British powerhouse is yet to master. 

The 27-year-old believes Thomas has a Grand Tour win in him. “If it’s not this year, then in the next three or four years, or at least podium,” Kennaugh said.

The pair have both diverged from traditional race programmes in lieu and as part of ardent preparations.

“It’s going to be interesting. Landa is climbing super already.  G [Thomas] is going to be so strong in those time trials, which are obviously a good card to play going into the last week if he’s got a bit of time on some of the guys.

“There’s no reason he can’t finish on the podium if you look at what he has done in the Tour [de France] the last couple of years, and also the shorter stage races.”

The Giro d’Italia, as well as the Vuelta a Espana, are both on Kennaugh’s radar this season. The puncheur has ruled himself out of the Tour de France selection race, he and his wife expecting again over the European summer.

“The baby is coming and I wouldn’t want to miss that. I think it’s good, the Giro and Vuelta is perfect. I really like the Vuelta and always seem to go well that time of year,” he said.

Kennaugh raced with Thomas and Chris Froome at the Volta a Catalunya earlier this month and was praised for his efforts in helping the race leaders before retiring on the queen stage.

“When I sat down with [Sky performance manager] Rod [Ellingworth] I said that’s the first race I want to be going really well, and be there in the thick of it to support Froome,” he said.

The former British national road champion is in a contract year with Sky, which he turned professional with in 2010, and has started to outline his own fledgeling Grand Tour designs.

“The next few years I want to see where I can go with the Grand Tour thing. I’d like to see if I can get a top 15 place in one of the Grand Tours, just for myself to know if I’m capable of competing in them,” Kennaugh said.

“I’ll be 29 in two years and you’re not going to improve that much after that, so give it until then, 29-30, to see whether your career takes a different path, or maybe focus on one-day racing. You can decide then, but that’s the aim at the back of my mind.”

The Manxman believes he is now better equipped for the Grand Tours, more confident in his mental game.

“The stress levels of the Tour de France, especially, you always have that one day where you’re like, Jesus, I just need a day off today, but I think as you get older you can just deal with everything a lot more,” he said.

“You just get used to racing, your head is so much clearer, or you can think so much clearer. You might be on a shit day but you just say to yourself, in four hours it’s going to be over and you’ll be back at the hotel.

"You get on with it a bit more and let everything go with your head, which I think is quite crucial as a bike rider, not letting things get to you and just becoming more relaxed with everything.  It takes a lot less energy out of you as well.”

Kennaugh has expressed his interest in staying with his ‘home’ WorldTour outfit but claims all contract talks are on the backburner for now.

“I already sat down with [Sky principal] Dave [Brailsford] in January in Mallorca and he said he wants to keep me, and at the minute I am really happy, but I would accept other offers,” Kennaugh said. “I just want to focus up until after the Giro, not even talk about teams and see where we are at then, see how I still feel in the team. But it’s a great team, great bunch of lads as well.”