A solid Classics campaign and Comonwealth gold see Geraint Thomas place sixth in our British Riders of the Year
Sometimes it’s tempting to think that Geraint Thomas is cursed. A spate of crashes — often happening at key moments in a race — disrupted a very promising Classics campaign in 2013 and this year was not without its near misses.
Victory at Paris-Nice in March was still within touching distance when he crashed on a descent on the penultimate stage. Having led since stage four, he lost the lead on the super-steep finish to Fayence, but was still confident of beating new leader Carlos Betancur until his bike skidded from under him on the road to Biot and dumped him into the barriers.
Thankfully his Classics campaign was solid, as he placed himself well to miss the majority of crashes that are so common in April. Third place at E3 Harelbeke (beaten by Peter Sagan and Niki Terpstra) was followed by eighth place at the Tour of Flanders and seventh at Paris-Roubaix (overshadowed by the fact that Bradley Wiggins finished two places behind him). He managed a level of consistency that only the best Classics riders can match.
In May, Thomas won the Bayern Rundfahrt stage race for the second time in his career, as he built up to the Tour de France. Thomas’s Tour started in the service of Chris Froome then Richie Porte. As those two dropped out of contention Thomas got to ride for himself over the second half of the race and finished 22nd overall: 40 minutes down on a top 10 place having sacrificed the first half of his race.
At the Commonwealth Games road race he demonstrated he was the undisputed coolest customer in the sport. With the gold medal seemingly in the bag, he punctured with six kilometres to go, putting his slender advantage over the chasers in jeopardy. With all eyes on the neutral service mechanic who struggled to change Thomas’s front wheel with cold, wet fingers after four hours in the rain, Thomas resisted the temptation to take over.
It would have been easy to urge the mechanic to hurry up, shout at him, even, or just get involved thinking he could do it faster himself. But with nerves of steel, he let the man do the job, got back on his bike and immediately started stretching out his leading margin again.
Once again there was talk of Thomas leaving Team Sky in order to get more leadership opportunities in major races, but the 28-year-old Welshman chose to stay with the team. British cycling fans will be willing Thomas — more than any other rider — to
step up and win a race in 2015 that his talents and efforts deserve.