Muret - Tour de France leader Chris Froome believes Sky team-mate Geraint
Thomas will one day lead his own team at a Grand Tour.
Welshman Thomas has been one of the revelations of this year's Tour,
currently sitting fifth overall at 4min 03sec behind Froome.
And although he's been working for his Sky team leader throughout the race,
he's still ahead of the likes of reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali and two-time
former winner Alberto Contador.
Having been a super-domestique for Bradley Wiggins in 2012 when his
countryman became the first ever British Tour winner, Froome believes Thomas
can also step up from helper to leader one day.
"Obviously it's a role I'm familiar with, a role I've done myself in
the past," said Froome.
"Geraint's been great, absolutely fantastic -- he was there all through
the first week on the Tour, in crosswinds and in the rain.
"We've got into the Pyrenees and finished the hardest Pyrenean stages
now and he's been right up there in both of them.
"It's fantastic riding by him, I don't think it's going to be long
before we see 'G' leading a Grand Tour for himself."
However, Froome was less sure Thomas would be able to emulate his feat from
2012 of finishing runner-up behind his team leader.
"I wouldn't say anything is impossible at this moment. Of course, the
team's focused on trying to keep the yellow jersey, that's the first objective,
the first goal.
"I definitely think 'G' is capable of it. I think he's fifth at the
moment but there's not much in it between fifth and second so anything is
possible if he carries on riding the way he's riding now."
Thomas himself is not adverse to the idea but believes he still has a way to
go before such considerations crop up.
"As a kid I always dreamed of the biggest races and going to try to win
the biggest races," he said.
"It would be absolutely a dream to do that one day but at the moment
it's all about keeping that progression going.
"Since I left the track behind I felt like I've been improving all the
time as a rider and hopefully this Tour I'll keep doing that, keep improving
and keep pushing forward.
"Later on down the line, who knows, but for the moment I'm just
concentrating on this race and doing what I can for Froome."
One issue for Thomas, though, might be his multi-skilled talents.
A twice Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion in the team
pursuit on the track, he has since developed into a consistent one-day classics
performer on the road.
He won the Commonwealth Games road race last year and the cobbled
semi-classic E3 Harelbeke earlier this year.
He's finished seventh at Paris-Roubaix, sixth in the Tour of Flanders, third
at Gent-Wevelgem and fourth at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
But he's developing as a stage racer as well, finishing fifth at Paris-Nice
in March behind teammate Richie Porte, and second to Slovenia's Simon Spilak at
last month's Tour of Switzerland.
Thomas, though, risks becoming a jack of all trades and master of none.
But as long as Froome is a team-mate, his conversion to Grand Tour contender
will have to wait.