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Archives for July 2011

A quick rest and then back on the bike

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Geraint Thomas | 11:43 UK time, Wednesday, 27 July 2011

So the biggest bike race in the world is now over. It's a strange feeling to be back in my apartment in Italy with my girlfriend Sara and not in a room with Eddie [Sky team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen]!

Every day on the Tour we would wake up, wee into a pot for the doc to check our hydration, weigh ourselves, then head down to breakfast.

We'd then be told when our suitcases needed to be ready for one of the carers to come and pick them up. Then, onto the bus to the start the stage.

It's nice now to just roll out of bed whenever and wander down to the local cafe in the piazza and just sit and watch the world go by.

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Deals on wheels and another stage win

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Geraint Thomas | 21:17 UK time, Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Wednesday was a great day for the team with Edvald Boasson Hagen winning his second stage of this year's Tour.

We wanted to get in the breakaways as it was highly likely the break would stay away to the finish, so me and Eddie were in the first break initially.

But there's so many different competitions going on, it's not just the overall - the yellow jersey. There's the team classement, the young rider, the points, the king of the mountains.

There was a guy from Leopard in the break with me and Eddie and there wasn't a Garmin rider.

Garmin are the leaders of the team classement and they ended up chasing, and there was about 45 minutes of just going off and trying to get that 'elastic' to snap but it never quite did and we got brought back.

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Staying alert, and the question of 2012 Tour and Olympics

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Geraint Thomas | 10:22 UK time, Friday, 15 July 2011

Well what a day yesterday was! It’s one thing climbing those mountains in the Tour anyway, but at the front going up the Tourmalet was just amazing.

The buzz from the crowd was unbelievable. There was so many GB and Welsh flags out there, I’d just like to say thanks for the support. It really means a lot to the whole team.

Today is a lot shorter with only the one HC climb. A breakaway is likely to succeed so we will hopefully get Eddie or Gerro up there.

I will be there along with Flecha and Swift, at the front to help them out. Basically, if the break looks to be going, I will attack to keep the bunch moving and the attacks flowing. Or just try and ride the group back up. It helps having everyone there to help the guys make the break but it is still hard. Especially on a day like today when everybody knows it is likely to succeed.

Once the break is gone, we will ‘chill’ as much as possible a save our energy for the climb. By ‘chilling’ we will still be concentrating.

The only time we would be able to switch off totally is at the end of the stage when in the gruppetto.

Even then, we are tired and just looking at the wheel in front, not much sightseeing. The rest of the time, we have to be alert.

This is one of the most tiring aspects of the Tour, in the first week especially. With so many crashes and wind changes etc we constantly have to be aware of what is happening and ‘switched on’. Cav has said this is the most tiring part of the race and I’d have to agree!

Speaking of Cav, he is having another amazing tour. It's crazy the situation he is in now. If he wins by a wheel, "Oh, Cav is struggling". Or even worse, if he gets beaten: "Oh, what’s wrong with Cav?".

I guess that’s the price you pay for being the fastest guy in the world. It's good to see him winning though, albeit in a rival team. We’re good mates at the end of the day, and both British.

There are also a lot of rumours and stories of whether I will miss the Tour next year because of the Olympics.

The way the Team Pursuit is these days, I think you need a lot more time on the track to adapt and really get up to speed.

There’s talk of me doing a few tests after the Tour to see how I have coped.

At the minute, I am unsure of what I will do. Obviously I love racing here at the Tour and would love to do it again. But on the other hand I don’t want to risk losing at the Olympics, especially in London. For now though I have stage 13 of this year's race to worry about.

Now hoping for a stage win myself

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Geraint Thomas | 09:53 UK time, Friday, 8 July 2011

What a great day yesterday was. To finally get that stage win was amazing!

As I have already said, it was a great team effort and Eddie finished it off perfectly.

On Wednesday, we weren’t quite together at the finish and Eddie went for a long one. I wasn’t actually supposed to be right up there. I was keeping Brad well positioned, out of trouble, and in front of any splits.

We went through the 2km to go banner in the top 10 and I couldn’t help myself… why not!! But yesterday it came together perfectly.

It’s been a great week for the team and of course myself on a personal level. Wearing the white jersey has been a great honour and morale boost. I’ve been loving this first week.

The racing has suited me well, obviously I would love a stage win and have been asked many times when it’s coming… Well hopefully I will get an opportunity at some point during the race and I’ll try to make the most of it.

2011 has been the second year I have come within a few seconds of taking the yellow jersey. It’s been a dream of mine since I can remember. I’m sure if I keep putting myself in the mix, it will happen one day.

With regards to the mountains, like I said in my previous blog, I will do my bit and sit up and save as much energy as possible for the next day. This first week has taken a lot of effort, as you can imagine, so by the time I get to the final week I will have to look after myself as best as possible.

In the future, is it something I want to go for?? Of course I would love to be able to climb with the best in the tour. In the meantime I just want to continue to improve as a bike rider, and if I think I can target a race like the Tour, then 100% I will try!

 This first week, although its been very enjoyable, its also been marred by a lot of crashes. But that’s the Tour. It’s not nice to see fellow riders fall and break bones.

But, at the Tour, everyone is nervous, everyone wants to be at the front and everyone wants to win. As a result we stress, get too close and crash.

Everyone complains, yet everyone still stresses and fights for position. It is just one of those things I guess.

Is the route more dangerous than normal? I don’t really know, it’s my third tour, but in the first I could barely see as I was hurting so much!!

Guys don’t complain at the Classics… but then again they are different races. The weather doesn’t exactly help matters either.

Your vision is obviously impaired and braking is a lot different. A lot comes down to us the riders to ride safely. There’s definitely a few guys out there renowned for riding like ‘desperate fools’ but I’m not going to name any names here… Sorry!!

 Finally, the icing on the cake this week must be sharing my ‘podium experiences’ with my girlfriend Sara. The team carer has managed to smuggle her behind the podium most days.

She has been out here since the TTT and it’s been great having her here watching. Sa and my family/friends give me heaps of support and it is great to share it with them. I’m certainly looking forward to a ‘few’ beers with the boys back in Cardiff come August!! Thanks to everyone for the support and good luck messages – it really means a lot.

 G

 

 

From parks and pavements to the Tour de France

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Geraint Thomas | 11:06 UK time, Friday, 1 July 2011

So here we go, the Tour de France 2011. The biggest bike race in the world is about to kick off. I will be lining up with one of my best mates, Ben Swift, which will be weird to say the least! We grew up together racing in parks and on pavements all over the UK.

 I’m really looking forward to the racing now though. There’s been a lot of talk and build-up to this year’s race and so it will be great to just get going.

For me, the Team Time Trial is the stage I am most excited about. I love them, they are very similar to the Team Pursuit on the track, albeit quite a bit longer.  Obviously the TTT is a ‘big hit’ for a lot of teams as the yellow jersey could be on the line.

Basically, if there is a bunch sprint the day before (stage 1) then most of the riders will be on the same time.

This means whichever team wins the TTT will also take the jersey. Exciting stuff, no?!

Especially because we are in with a real chance. Usually the team leader would cross the line first, so wear the yellow jersey.

 I am still young enough to qualify for the young rider's jersey which I wore last year. It isn’t something that I’m thinking about though. I will have the same approach as last year, if it happens, it will be great and a massive bonus. It was amazing wearing that white jersey last year! Stepping onto the podium after each stage was something I had only dreamt of before. Just putting the jersey on in  the morning would make me feel good. Then I’d start each stage at the front next to Fabien who was in yellow as we rolled away.

As I said though, I am not thinking of myself. The team has a massive opportunity to do great things in the overall competition so I will be saving all my energy to help achieve this. At the start of each stage we will all have our individual jobs. On the flat days I will probably have to sit with Brad all day, probably with one other.

I will be there to shelter him from the wind and keep him in a good position, in case the race splits in crosswinds. I will also stop when he stops, ie, with a puncture or a ‘call of nature’. Other guys will then be on bottle runs to and from the car. Others will be on ‘early doors’, which means they will either be trying to get in the breakaway or making sure the ‘right’ break goes with only a couple of riders there. It all depends on the tactics for the day i.e. if a sprint is likely or not. Basically we want to get Brad to the finish as fresh as possible, so he saves himself for the selection in the mountains.

 I’m actually kind of looking forward to the mountains as well. There’s always a great atmosphere, and a few crazy outfits to keep the gruppetto amused. The Dutch and the Basques stand out as being the loudest and most enthusiastic, or maybe just the most drunk. However, the Brits and Norwegians are catching up!

There’s a different approach to mountain stages. Each rider will have their own ‘finish line’ on the stage. Basically, we take turns to set the pace for Brad up the hill - then drop back when we've reached our personal 'finish line.'

The better the climber, the longer they will have to stay near Brad. Once we’ve completed our job, we’ll find a group to ride with and take it as easy as possible. Conserving energy is important, especially over a 3 week race around France!

I also enjoy the time trial days. They usually start later in the afternoon than the normal road stages meaning a bit of a lie-in which is always nice. A lot of guys use it as a rest day and ride around making sure they make the time cut, which is usually around 15% of the winner's time. Time trialling  is something that I want to continue to improve in, so the more I do ‘flat out’ the better, no rest day for me then…

Although it's going to be a busy few weeks, I'll do my best to answer as many of your comments and questions as possible.

 

 

 

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