Geraint Thomas Interview: Building on a successful 2010
  November 17, 2019 Login  

Current Articles    |   Archives    |   RSS Feeds    |   Search

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Geraint Thomas Interview: Building on a successful 2010

by Ben Atkins at 6:49 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour de France, Spring Classics, Track, Olympics
 
British champion speaks about the coming year on the road and the track

geraint thomasGeraint Thomas (Team Sky) has made a steady start to 2011. His personal results in January’s Santos Tour Down Under were fairly unspectacular, but he spent the week working for the team’s 23-year-old sprinter Ben Swift, who took two stages. He came out of the race feeling good about his own form and looking ahead to the rest of the season.

Velonation caught up with the British champion as he prepared to race at the World Cup track event in Manchester this weekend, just as it was announced that Thomas had become an ambassador for children’s charity Action Medical Research.

“Good, yeah,” he said of his experience of the race. “Obviously it was quite a big race for us to start the year off, I was quite looking forward to the race and I was a lot better than I thought I was really. I was just happy with how it was going really, doing the lead outs for the team and I felt strong, being able to deliver Swifty…”

While not a bad year for the Sky team, 2010 was certainly didn’t live up to the massive hype that greeted its formation. The team’s grand presentation in London, and the expectation that Bradley Wiggins would at least match his Tour de France fourth place of 2009, was not matched by actual results on the road.

“With the team,” said Thomas, “I think everything was sort of… the Tour was the be all and end all of the team, I think. Obviously Brad didn’t get what he’d hoped, and the result of that was a bad thing for the team, for the year.

“The whole year was kind of judged on that race. But I still think it was a good year all in all really.”

While the team’s year did not go to plan, it went much better for Thomas. He took victory in his first race of the year – as Sky won the Tour of Qatar team time trial – and the British national championships; it was the first week of the Tour though where the year really came together.

“For me personally as well, it couldn’t have gone much better really,” he said. “I felt like I went well in the classics, and obviously the Tour went the way it did. So yeah, it was definitely good for the confidence…. It’s good for your training and things as well, it gives you that… you know what you’re doing it for. It gives you that confidence to keep going; and plough on for even better results.”

Thomas finished fifth in the rainy Rotterdam prologue, then managed to be one of the few riders to stay on his bike on the finishing straight in Brussels the next day.

“I was lucky to stay upright then, yeah!” he laughed.

So close to yellow, but so far...

After the neutralised stage to Spa, he managed to stay with the very select group on the cobbles to Arenberg, where he finished second behind stage winner Thor Hushovd. This result put him into second on the general classification, with the media expecting him to take it when the race hit the mountains; this was not something he personally expected though, and he slipped down the rankings on the medium mountain stage to Station des Rousses.

“Not really, no,” he said, “I think that I never really had any individual ambitions for the mountains or anything like that anyway. I was lying second going into the mountains and there was a lot of talk about me taking the jersey, which I hadn’t even thought about. It was more just people around in the press and that talking I guess…

“Initially, crossing the line, I was a bit disappointed getting dropped,” he continued. “Looking back I’d done everything I could; I gave everything I could to just try and hang in there and my legs just sort of gave way… it was a pretty stressful first week really; there was quite a lot going on… then there were the actual climbs themselves, I just got trailed off at the end.

“It was great to be in that position,” he added, “you know, 20 seconds from the yellow jersey after a week or so, which not many people can say I guess.”

Australia throws down the gauntlet on the track

For Thomas, the next races on the agenda will see him return to the track for the World Cup event in Manchester this weekend. As a pursuiter he was surprised by the news that Australian Jack Bobridge managed to break the seemingly unbeatable individual pursuit record set by Chris Boardman.

geraint thomas“I was surprised to be honest,” he said, “because it was a phenomenal time that he rode, but definitely it’s got me out training in the morning, that’s for sure! I’d obviously been looking forward to the World Cup, but seeing him do that definitely switched a bit of a switch and I turned up a level.”

Thomas previously held the fastest post-Boardman time, set in the 2009 British championships; Bobridge’s new record has certainly spurred him on, but it’s unlikely that there will be an immediate reaction to the Australian.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to come out and break the World record or anything like that,” he laughed. “I’ve only been on the track for two weeks.

“We’re aware of how the Aussies have come on now,” he explained, “but also with that time: you look at the conditions and everything, it was definitely favourable, the [Rohan] Dennis guy rode [4 minutes] 13, so… You’ve still got to be able to push the pedals for sure. So it’s definitely going to be a good race whenever we end up meeting.”

With the individual pursuit losing its status as an Olympic event, there is a danger that the event may lose some of its lustre as one of the blue riband track events, just as the kilometre time trial did when it was cut after Athens in 2004.

“I hope not because I think it’s one of those events that’s – I guess the kilo was as well – it’s a kind of national event; there’s a lot of history in there,” said Thomas.

“Personally, I still want to ride the IP in the Worlds; I don’t think this time round, but maybe next year, and I want to try and win. A World title’s still a World title, it’s still a massive goal of mine that’s for sure.

“Hopefully if I get the right conditions and things, I don’t see why I can’t bring that record back the UK.”

Great Britain can step up to the challenge to retain its team pursuit title

The team pursuit is still very much part of the Olympic programme though, and the rivalry with Australia looks set to continue in the build up to the Games in London in 2012.

“If they’d ridden the team pursuit when Jack had ridden the IP then the World record would have gone, for sure,” he said. “Just because of the conditions as well. They’ve definitely got the legs to do it.

“I definitely reckon that record will go,” he continued, “probably pre-Olympics I think; then it’ll go in the Olympics. Now the competition’s so strong; we’ve got a lot of guys now, fighting for positions in the team. Obviously seeing the Aussies have really caught up to us, and maybe surpassed us, or whatever; that’s definitely spurred us on anyway, to keep training hard and keep pushing forward.

Former Great Britain sprinter Jamie Staff, who now works with the US sprint team, has criticised the role of Great Britain performance director Dave Brailsford’s roles with Sky and the national team. Staff claimed that the dual roles could be to the detriment of Great Britain’s Olympic chances; Thomas disagrees.

“Obviously with Dave heading up both of them there are going to be times when he’s torn between the two,” he admitted, “but with the Olympics, the national pride and going to the Olympics still means a lot to him.

“Obviously, the year or two after the Olympics there’s always a bit of a downer,” he explained, “after all that hype and build up all the way to the Olympics, you sort of sit back and shut down a little bit.”

“From now, building up to the Olympics is going to be full on; I’m sure there’ll be just as much, or more, attention on the track team really.”

Looking ahead to another strong season on the road

Once the Track World Cup is out of the way Thomas will return to the road, and follow much the same path as 2010.

“Similar to last year really,” he explained, “apart from the World Cup obviously. I’m doing Sardinia with the national team, just to get in an extra race and then I’m doing Paris-Nice, De Panne and then the classics; then Picardy, Bayern-Rundfhart and the Dauphiné, which I rode last year.

“That seemed to work really well, those three races, then hopefully the Tour…”

As the winner of the 2004 Paris-Roubaix for juniors (beating current Sky teammate Ian Stannard into second place) along with his performance over the cobbles at this year’s Tour, give Thomas the ambition to perform in the classics some day.

“It’s something I’d like to target in the future,” he said. “I’m just sort of riding a bit of everything really, just to see where my real strengths lie. I think the classics and the one-week tours with not too much climbing, but a little time trial; that’s the sort of thing I’m definitely going to be looking at over the next couple of years.

“Obviously prologues at the minute as well,” he explained, “any sort of prologue I’m up for at the minute to get stuck into. It was quite disappointing when I saw that Paris-Nice wasn’t going to have one this year, but there’s nothing you can do about that really.”

While he has his sights set on the top races though, he maintains that these are not the only races worth aiming for.

“The classics for sure,” he confirmed, “and the Tour are still the main goals; obviously, building up to them the races are sort of preparation races I guess, but they’re still big important races.

“I feel I’ve stepped up a level for sure now,” he added, “and I want to keep pushing forward really, and win a race or two along the way. Obviously, it’s hard to win a classic or a stage of the Tour but definitely in the next few years that something I’m looking at doing really.”

Team Sky will also learn from 2010

While Thomas has learned a lot in the last year, so has the Sky team; this season things will be done a little differently, he says.

“I think there’ll be less hope and impetus just on Brad and the Tour,” he explained. “There’s a lot of other massive races out there that people can do well in…

“We’ll be a bit more accessible to the public as well,” he said, “sometimes we’d be sitting on the bus and then getting out and going straight to the start. So I think – obviously, the team’s full of nice guys – we’ll be happy to chat to the public.

“We’ll just go out there and just race hard and enjoy it,” he concluded, “just treat every race as important and not put all our eggs into one basket.”

      comments




Subscribe via RSS or daily email

WHAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW
  Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy  Copyright 2008-2013 by VeloNation LLC