Geraint Thomas believes Mark Cavendish, who announced his retirement at the end of the current season, is the “greatest sprinter of all time" and says it has been "an honour to ride with him".
Cavendish is currently at the Giro d’Italia and is expected to compete at the Tour de France this summer, where he hopes to break the stage record that he currently shares with Eddy Merckx.
Thomas has raced alongside Cavendish for Great Britain as well as for one season at Team Sky.
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Reflecting on their shared history together, Thomas said: "He told me at the start of the Giro and I didn't really believe him.
I kind of thought he would keep going, but I just want to say, yeah, an incredible career he has had.
“Obviously, he is still racing, he's still got to get this record at the Tour and hopefully win a stage here. I think we have known each other for about 25 years which is crazy, time as a team-mate is 23, so It kind of puts into perspective how old we are really.
"Unbelievable career that he's had. Really proud to have been a team-mate a long time, you know, winning the worlds."
Thomas, who is bidding to win the Giro to claim his second Grand Tour win, added: "He is probably the greatest, well he is the greatest sprinter of all time when you see his record. It's been an honour to ride with him and be mates with him for, as I said at the start, 25 years, time is 23, so as a team-mate obviously. So, that shows how old we both are now.
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“It's incredible, I was there when he won the worlds, you know raced as under 23's, and juniors all over the world together and we've got a lot of experiences so it's kind of strange to see him retire actually because, it means I'm going to be soon as well.
"So, it's a funny one. You always think you are going to keep racing on your bike, but you're not. But he hasn't finished yet, he still has to get that record at the Tour and win a stage here so..."
Thomas’ 37th birthday is coming up on May 25, and while not quite as significant a milestone as a potential outright Giro win, he is hopeful of having a stage victory to celebrate too.
He admitted: "It would be nice to win on my birthday.
"The main thing is trying to win the race overall, it's just taking day by day and it depends on a lot of things really, but hopefully, you know the team is strong and I feel strong and if that is the case, and the situation is right then I would love to try and do something."
Asked whether he had considered his own retirement plans, Thomas said: "Like I said before at the start of this race, I just want to concentrate on this race.
"Talk has started with this team about extending, but I’m going to cross that bridge in a couple of weeks after the race.”
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Stream the 2023 Giro d'Italia live and on-demand on discovery+ and eurosport.co.uk
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