Geraint Thomas tipped to win Tour Down Under after his stage two victory
Geraint Thomas can win the Tour Down Under after his stunning stage two victory, says Yanto Barker.
Last Updated: 02/02/13 11:10am
The Team Sky rider, who won his second Olympic gold medal on the track in the team pursuit last summer, attacked out of the peloton on Corkscrew Hill before out-sprinting his breakaway companions to win the 116.5km run from Mount Barker to Rostrevor and storm into a five second overall lead ahead of Javier Moreno (Movistar).
And given his current form, Barker believes Thomas, who has spent much of his road career working for team-mates, can now step up and win the week-long event himself.
"I'm pleased to see Geraint win that stage," said the UK Youth rider.
"He's always been a good team domestique for his leaders but today he's taken it on for himself, he's attacked up the climb and managed to dispose with the rest of the breakaway group very well.
"He'll now be Team Sky's protected rider; everyone will be riding for him because he's capable of winning the tour overall and they'll know that.
"Their goal will now be to maintain that lead and defend it as best possible during the next few stages."
Former British National Road Race champion Thomas - who once wore the white jersey in the Tour de France - demonstrated his all-round ability with his move on the climb and fast finish and Barker praised the way the Welshman went about winning the stage, which was well-suited to his skills.
"He's always been capable of both sprinting and climbing well and this was a very good stage for him," said Barker.
"I like the fact he attacked on the climb at the hardest point of the race. There were gaps between everyone and it was mano-a-mano, every man for himself.
"And then he produced the perfect finish. He took the slipstream on the left, caught his rivals by surprise and sprinted for about 100m before sitting down and powering to the line, which he does exceptionally well as a pursuiter.
"Team Sky would have had a very purposeful intention for what they wanted to do in this stage and when Geraint attacked he looked very serious about it. He impressively dropped everyone on the climb and, although he was caught by three riders on the descent, he finished it off in style."