CYCLING star Geraint Thomas is set to launch his 2023 European season at the seven-stage Tirreno-Adriatico race in Italy next week, having pulled out of February’s Volta ao Algarve due to a minor infection.

The 2018 Tour de France winner, who owns the St Tewdrics wedding venue near Chepstow, stayed on at a training camp in the US rather than travel to race in Portugal.

The 37-year-old Ineos Grenadier rider, third in last year’s Tour, is targeting May’s Giro d’Italia and might now add the Volta a Catalunya to his schedule beforehand.

He was hit by an infection at the Tour Down Under in Australia at the start of the year, and then opted for warm weather training in New Zealand, where he rode out with All Blacks rugby legend Richie McCaw, and California.

“Geraint’s all right. He’s in a good rhythm and routine so we decided we’d keep him doing what he’s doing for now,” Ineos Grenadiers’ deputy team principal, Rod Ellingworth, told Cyclingnews.

“He’s all right. He just had a bit of illness before the TDU, rode TDU and was fine, but afterwards had another little repeat of the same thing.

“He never felt really ill with it but something wasn’t quite right. Now he’s absolutely fine. He’s been doing some great work in LA with Cameron Wurf (team-mate), who’s sort of his sparring partner out there, so since he was in a good routine we thought ‘ok let’s keep him there’.”

The Volta will hopefully give him more of the racing intensity he missed in the Algarve.

“Tirreno will be his first race, and now there’s a discussion about whether he does Catalunya,” he added.

“That or Coppi Bartali were always part of the plan, but he may go to Catalunya now to make up for what he’s missed. We’re not looking past the Giro at the moment. He’s in good spirits, he’s up for it.”