Tour de France: Thomas's ambitions rise with Sky

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The Independent Online

When the Tour de France began in London in 2007, Geraint Thomas was the race's youngest rider and finished next to last in Paris three weeks later. Three years on, the 24-year-old will roll down the starting ramp in Rotterdam on Saturday as a member of Team Sky, intent on delivering Bradley Wiggins to a podium finish in Paris on 25 July.

"I really can't wait," said Thomas, who won Olympic team pursuit gold alongside Wiggins in 2008. "Back then [in 2007] I wasn't in the race, I was just there to see how far I could get and I eventually ended up getting round. This time it's just completely different – I'm going there with a team looking to do something on GC [general classification].

"I'm going there with a real purpose this time, a real job to do – that's a massive difference and I'm really motivated now. I'm going there to race this time whereas before it was an unknown, a nice opportunity."

Lance Armstrong, meanwhile, said recent allegations that he had doped during his career from former team-mate Floyd Landis won't distract him from his goal of winning a record eighth Tour. The 38-year-old said yesterday he was in better shape than last year, when he finished third in his return after a three-year retirement.

Armstrong said he would not let any accusation from Landis deter him. "In fact, in the end, it will be the opposite," he said. "It's going to inspire me. I've been at the front of my sport since the day I showed up. And in the process, there have been a ton of questions, and a ton of scrutiny and a lot of controls and investigations. And I'm still here.

"I understand that media love the sensationalist stories and they love the salacious, and the ones that include accusations, that include all the blood and sex and drugs. They love that. But at the end of the day, I think my career speaks for itself."