He’s a world and Olympic track champion, he can ride a mean prologue, he’s a very good lead out man, can climb mountains in the second group at the Tour de France (in the final week), he was instrumental in Bradley Wiggins’s Paris-Nice win this spring, tenth in his second Tour of Flanders and won junior Paris-Roubaix.
Is Geraint Thomas the most versatile rider in the pro peloton? He’s only won four races in six years as a professional (and one of those was the national road race championships), but he never seems too worried. Put it to him and I guarantee he’ll say ‘ah, i just enjoy getting stuck in.’
Years ago, a British Cycling coach once told me; “the problem with Geraint is, he doesn’t know how good he is.” Mark Cavendish used to question why G, his mate from the Academy, didn’t win as many races as him. Perhaps he knew how good he was.
That’s not to belittle Thomas’s dedication. He is also wholly focused on team pursuit gold in London this Summer, and when he needs to train he trains, and does so as hard as anyone. In fact, over winter BC coaches were trying to stop him doing too many road miles as it was preventing him from putting on the muscle mass that he needs to ride the Team Pursuit in world record time.
Weeks before the world track championships Thomas was however on the ropes. He was the sixth best man of the six riders vying for a place in the TP and there was a danger of him not travelling to Melbourne. Then he started to come round. By race day he was the powerhouse the team needs. He topped that off by winning a silver in the madison with Ben Swift.
Now he’s switched that fitness to the road, seemingly with ease. It might sound simple in principal, take the fitness off the track, throw in a few weeks of big miles, and apply it to the road. But were was Jack Bobridge – the cornerstone of Austrlian team pursuit squad and an outstandingly good individual pursuiter – in the prologue? And why hasn’t Cameron Meyer – a rider in a league on his own in the points race – come off the track and used his fitness to produce road results? Both are world class riders, but doing what Thomas has done isn’t that easy.
There is a touch of the young Bradley Wiggins about Thomas. Wiggins spent much of his early pro days riding round at the back of the peloton, going through the motions until he decided to really focus on a goal, usually the Olympics.
When Wiggins did focus he really focused. With a goal in sight the Briton was famous for being impossible to work with. He wouldn’t answer his phone to anyone, even his then coach simon Jones, who once resorted to leaving a ranting voicemail calling Wiggins every name under the sun in order to get him to ring back. Apparently it worked.
But when Wiggins focused, he was unshakable, and the results are there for everyone to see. Now he has applied that focus to his racing and training year round, not just the last eight weeks before a goal – and look at the results. He’s the best stage race rider in the peloton this year, and a favourite for the Tour.
Thomas’s advantage over Wiggins is that his formative years in the peloton have been, and still are being, spent at the front of races, not at the back. When he does turn his attention fully to the road, post London, who knows what he’ll achieve.
Cavendish and Thomas a winning combo says Brailsford