GERAINT Thomas described the emotions as “raw” after losing out on winning the Giro d-Italia to Slovenian powerhouse Primoz Roglic by just 14 seconds.

The 2018 Tour de France winner, who turned 37 last week, was on course to become the oldest ever winner of the three-week race until Saturday’s tough 18km Monte Lussari uphill time-trial saw his 26 second lead overhauled by the three-time Vuelta winner.

But the Welsh cyclist, who numbers the Blorenge Tumble as one of his favourite hill climbs in his book ‘Mountains According to G’, said after finishing second he is targeting more success this year and possibly beyond, with the Tour of Spain a possible 2023 target.

Thomas, a favourite at the former Abergavenny Cycling Festival, was magnanimous despite the pain of having the Giro clutched from his grasp by Roglic, who amazingly won a junior ski jumping world title as a teenager on the same mountain.

“Well I left it all out there. Chapeau @rogla, you deserve it mate,” he posted afterwards. “If you’d offered me this a few months ago when things didn’t seem to be going my way, I’d have taken it. But right now I feel pretty devastated.”

“He just rode above and beyond, So hats off to him,” he also told BBC Sport. “If it was a flat time trial it might have been different, but that’s just the way it is in sport. It’s full of ups and downs. The lows make the highs even better.”

And a measure of the man was how he bounced back in Sunday’s final stage to give best mate and team rival Mark Cavendish the lead out in the sprint, as the 38-year old Manxman grabbed another stage win in his final bow in the Giro before retring at the end of the year.

In Saturday’s time-trial the Ineos Genadier looked to be matching Roglic on the lower slopes, but suffered as the stage steepened.

“It was so close, so close,” he said. “It’s still frustrating, I think just because of the way I rode it, with the wheels falling off a bit in the last 3 or 4k. If I’d ridden it differently – if I’d started slowly and finished strong – I’d still have lost the same time, but it might feel a little different.

“But the fact I just fell away at the end makes it feel a bit worse. I just gave it everything. If it was a flat TT, it might have been different, but that’s just the way it is. That’s sport. It’s full of ups and downs.

“The emotions are still a bit raw, but we can still be proud of how we all rode and committed, and how we bounced back after some downs. We can be content, but at this team, we want to win, so it’s always a bit hard.

“I’m still proud of getting into this shape after the year I’ve had. Getting on the podium is still a big achievement.”

And he is already looking ahead, towards the summer’s World Championships in Glasgow and perhaps the Vuelta a Espana.

“I’ve never thought about my age. I still love riding my bike, I love training, I love being with the boys - I think that keeps you young mentally.

“I’m still competitive, I still love racing, I still love the argy-bargy of a sprint sometimes. So I’ll just keep doing it as long as I love it.

“I’ll try to sort out my future [contract] in the next couple of weeks...

“With the Worlds in the UK in August, they’re still a goal and after that potentially the Vuelta,” said Thomas. “I’ve only done the Vuelta once [in 2015]. That was a bad experience, so it’d be quite nice to maybe go back there.”

And he could return for one more tilt at the Giro next year, saying: ”I love racing in Italy. It’s something about the fans, the roads, the atmosphere is just amazing here.

“The support in this race was really humbling, really nice to feel, and I’ve just had an amazing time. I hope I’ll be back - never say never. As long as I keep racing, I know I’ll want to come back.”