This week saw Geraint Thomas take a well deserved overall victory in the 2015 Volta ao Algarve, which included a hilly stage win. Here we take a look back at his greatest hits so far, and some forgettable misses
Whilst his British cycling peers have grabbed the limelight, Geraint Thomas has been quietly building up an enviable set of results in the past decade.
Not only has he built up a respectful personal palmares, he has also contributed heavily to other riders’ results: the Welshman is the consummate team player, willing to sacrifice his glory for the good of the team.
Whilst Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish have reached household name status, Thomas is – perhaps barring his native Wales – still largely and bafflingly unknown outside of cycling. The double Olympic champion has remained down to earth and his sense of humour is enjoyably intact, as his many self-made video diaries will confirm.
Thomas is a product of the British Cycling system, having been nurtured on both the track and road. He first rose to prominence as a junior, grabbing both the junior Paris-Roubaix and scratch race world titles. Those early results paved the way for a solid career over the following decade, and the 28-year-old from Cardiff appears to be just settling into his stride with Team Sky.
After this week’s fine overall victory in the Volta ao Algarve, we thought it was high time to celebrate Thomas’s defining moments thus far…
Junior Paris-Roubaix 2004
Thomas’s early experience of Paris-Roubaix cobbles was a good one: he claimed the win in the 2004 edition of junior Paris-Roubaix ahead of fellow Brit and now Sky team-mate, Ian Stannard. Thomas was all set to sprint it out with Stannard in the Roubaix velodrome, but Stannard actually took a wrong turn leaving Thomas to take the glory. Amazingly, Thomas didn’t return to ride the senior Paris-Roubaix until 2010.
Commonwealth Games road race gold 2014
Thomas is a patriotic Welshman, but opportunities to don the red, white and green colours of his homeland are few and far between. During a particularly grim and gruelling men’s road race around the streets of Glasgow, Thomas put in an attack to solo to the win. It didn’t all go smoothly, though, as a late puncture threatened to put paid to his chances. Unlike most of us watching it on the television, Thomas kept his cool, changed his wheel and took the title.
Flèche du Sud 2006 overall
Thomas took his first overall stage race win back in 2006, in the Flèche du Sud in Luxembourg whilst riding for the Great Britain team. He won stage two of the race on the way to topping the general classification. The result raised his profile and the following year he was signed to the Barloworld team, stepping up a level in international cycling.
Olympic Games 2008 and 2012
It is perhaps easy to forget when we talk about road success that Thomas is a double Olympic gold medallist on the track. For many years, Thomas was an integral part of Britain’s all-conquering team pursuit line-up that also included stalwarts Wiggins, Ed Clancy and Peter Kennaugh. They took gold in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, then again at home in London in 2012. He was also a triple world champion in the team pursuit, helping to claim the title for Great Britain in 2007, 2008 and 2012.
British national road race title 2010
Thomas took a popular win in the 2010 British road race championships, crossing the line ahead of Sky team-mates Peter Kennaugh and Ian Stannard. It meant that he earned the right to wear the red, white and blue jersey of national champion during the following season – and Thomas did the colours proud, not least in the weeks directly after the championship when he topped the best young rider classification in the Tour de France for a spell.
Bayern-Rundfahrt 2011 and 2014
Thomas is the only British rider to have ever won the Tour of Bavaria, and he’s done it twice in 2011 and 2014. On both occasions, Thomas put in a strong performance in the race’s time trial stage to go on and win the race overall – including last year’s edition. The race offers one of the rare opportunities for Thomas to be free to grab a result for himself, but shows he is highly capable in short stage races.
Tour Down Under 2013
A couple of late attacks during the second stage of the 2013 Tour Down Under saw Thomas take the win, and move into the overall race lead. Thomas always seems to go well in Australia, part of his early-season build-up to the Spring Classics. He couldn’t quite hang on to the overall lead into the race’s conclusion, and ended up a nonetheless creditable third behind winner Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco).
Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders 2014
Not victories, but placing in the top 10 of two of the world’s toughest one-day races is a solid achievement. Thomas placed 10th in the Tour of Flanders and then seventh in Paris-Roubaix whilst assisting Bradley Wiggins, confirming his Classics credentials. Surely a big Classics win can’t be too far away?
Tour of the Algarve 2015
Thomas took overall victory in the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, having won stage two and then placed third behind time trial specialists Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) and Adriano Malori (Movistar) in the race’s test against the clock. He then limited his losses on the penultimate hilly stage, won by Sky team-mate Richie Porte, to claim his third career stage race win.
And near misses…
Thomas does, how shall we say, have something of a reputation for hitting the deck at inopportune moments. Having previously led the 2014 edition of Paris-Nice, Thomas crashed out of the race whilst in second place overall. We were left wondering what could have been.
Tour de France 2011, stage 12
After team leader Bradley Wiggins had crashed out of the race, Thomas had a free rein and got himself out in an escape during a particularly tough stage of the 2011 Tour to Luz Ardiden. Thomas impressively attacked the six-man escape on the ascent of the Col du Tourmalet after crashing on an earlier descent. Frenchman Jeremy Roy then caught him and cruelly crested the summit to take the €5,000 Souvenir Jacques Goddet in front of Thomas. In any case, the duo were subsequently caught by a group of riders and the stage win went to Samuel Sanchez.
Dwars door Vlaanderen 2011
As near misses go, Thomas’s second place in the 2011 edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen was very close. Thomas had been part of a four-rider escape in the dying kilometres of the Belgian semi-classic, and had successfully kept the stampeding peloton at bay only to see victory snatched from him by Nick Nuyens.