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The thrill of team leading in the Tour of Britain

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Geraint Thomas | 12:42 UK time, Thursday, 1 September 2011

Here we are the final month of the season, it has flown by, but if I think back to January and the Tour Down Under it seems like a lifetime ago. So much has happened since!

September is also the final month of being a 'true' road rider as as such because, come October, I will be back on the track. That is when the whole build-up and training for the Olympics really begins. I have the track Euros first, at the end of October, then a 'boot camp' style block of six weeks' training in Manchester with the track squad. I'm really looking forward to it, and seeing how this last year has gone, I'm sure the Olympics will be on us before we know it.

So with just over a week to go until the Tour of Britain, I am putting the finishing touches to my preparation. Just sitting here writing about the race makes me excited!

I am mainly resting up now with a few long rides to keep the body ticking over. I can definitely feel the racing I have done this year. If it was any other race at the end of the year, I’m sure I would have let myself go.

But the Tour of Britain and World Champs (a week later) are always big, well they are if you’re a Brit.

Saying that, the Tour of Britain has grown in stature since I first did it in 2005.  A lot of guys now use it as their final prep for the worlds, if they aren’t riding the Vuelta obviously.

The race route has also improved. There are some hard stages that are constantly up and down, which are the worst, and also some exciting finishes like into Stoke-on-Trent and Caerphilly.

The stages are shorter than most races in Europe but I don’t think this matters too much (with regards to the worlds that are 260km long). If anything it makes the racing harder and after such a long season we already have the endurance and kilometres in us.

I can't wait for it to begin! It is not often we get to race on home roads, in front of a home crowd. One of the stages finishes is in Caerphilly, which isn’t far from where I grew up.

With the success of the Olympic track team and Cav/Brad etc the crowds have grown in recent years. Swansea was the stand out stage of last year, Constitution Hill could have been in Belgium.

I’ve been named as one of the leaders of the team, which is always nice. But to be honest it is a similar situation to Bayern Rundfahrt, where I won my first pro stage race this year. We have such a strong team that any of us stand a shout of winning. The 10km TT helps myself along with Alex Dowset and of course Mick Rogers, who has won the world TT title a few times! 


As most of you are probably aware, there is usually a break that decides the General Classification (GC) in the Tour of Britain so it will be up to one of us to be in it. Once the GC has formed some shape we will have more an idea of the true team leader. Hopefully that will be me, I would love to go for the GC win.

The Tour of Britain also marks the start of the Rugby World Cup. Wales kick off their campaign against South Africa on the day we have the first stage of the Tour of Britain.

As I’m sure you know it’s taking place in New Zealand so I’m not sure if we will get to watch it live but hopefully we can record all the games on the bus. It will make the long transfers a lot more interesting!

Wales’ captain, Sam Warburton, also went to the same high school as me, Whitchurch High. They haven’t done too bad on the sporting front with Gareth Bale also coming from Whitchurch. Being the biggest school in Wales probably helped probability wise, but to be fair, the games department were really passionate.

They really tried to encourage us to get involved in sport whilst at school. However, once I started cycling a bit more seriously I managed to avoid the rugby teacher, daily… Where Wales will finish is hard to say. A potential quarter-final clash with an in-form Aussie team could be the game to cause an upset. It would also provide me some bragging rights in the team! Time will tell…


Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Just like to congratulate you on a great season so far G, and hopefully youl add the tour of britain title to your list of achievements. Im a bit gutted though, i live and work in caerphilly and was really hoping to watch you and the rest of the guys tackling the "Welsh Tourmalet". Unfortunately work commitments will prevent this (why do the stages of the ToB start/finish so early? Grr). Anyway im sure your feats on the real col du tourmalet will stand you in good stead when mentally preparing for the massive challenge that is Caerphilly Mountain!!! :)

  • Comment number 2.

    I'll see you in Stoke on Tuesday Geraint.Good finish that might suit you,Hendo won it there last year.A fab season for you thus far.Good luck with the track season and the Worlds.Is the plan to set up Cav or perhaps try a bit of a break a few kms from the end like Cadel in 2009?

  • Comment number 3.

    All the best for the Tour and Worlds Geraint, you well deserve the team leader status after a brilliant TdF.

    Hoping to make it to Dumfries for the opening stage.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks jacksofbuxton. Cav stands a great chance, so I think everything will be for him. Obviously his recent form is being questioned but I think he will be good. We have a few cards to play coming into the final two laps if Cav isn't at his best. Whatever way I'm sure it will be exciting and the best chance GB have had of winning the worlds!!

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Geraint, looking forward to seeing you lot arrive in Wells not once but twice on Friday 16th. It'd be fantastic to see a Welshman win the tour.

    Have you had a big look at the profiles of the Stage routes yet, and if so, do you see Stage 6 ending up in a bunch sprint? Ben

  • Comment number 6.

    Best of luck in the Tour and the Worlds Geraint. You and the whole team have been really impressive this season, and with Brad and Chris Froome's current exploits in the Vuelta things seems to be getting better and better. I'm sure you can cap it off with yet more success here. Hoping to see you on the attack on the Welsh stage, I'll be on the slopes of Caerphilly Mountain cheering you on! Tom

  • Comment number 7.

    well done to Danny Hart for winning the downhill world champs. wel done to the bbc for reporting on a british world champion. just like the lasts 4 years!

  • Comment number 8.

    Thanks johnb1972. Hopefully I can win there! I think the stages start early because of the long transfers after the stages, so giving us time for massage and dinner once we arrive at the next hotel...

    Thanks Ben. It all depends on the GC by stage 6. A breakaway may succeed if it isn't a threat to the GC. But if a team with a sprinter misses the move they'd be likely to bring it back. Also time bonuses may favour someone like Thor Hushovd, if he's within reach of the yellow jersey, so Garmin could bring it back together. So a lot can happen really. If it was just a one of stage then I'd expect a sprint.


    Thanks Tom, hopefully I'll feel good and can do something!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Geraint, thanks so much for answering my question, I can't wait to see you guys all roll into Wells next Friday and will be cheering my Sky boys + a Cav!

    Also, from what you've seen of him in training and in events like the Vuelta, just how good is Chris Froome, and do you think he has the potential to be a top Stage Race rider?

  • Comment number 10.

    Well I think he already is a top stage racer! He's 13 seconds off the overall win with 4 days to go... He has always shown great potential climbing and in TT's but he just been a bit inconsistent. He has had a virus in the past which hasn't helped and he's also lost a lot of weight which is key.

  • Comment number 11.

    Well done on a great season so far G - with a strong team line-up being named by Sky I hope to see you in amongst it on the Tour of Britain.

  • Comment number 12.

    This all seems to bode very well for Sky, with yourself, Froomy and Brad all top stage race riders who are handy in a tt. By the way, great ride yesterday to pop in 5th behind HTC. Any news yet on a Cav move?!

    And unlucky about not being able to ride today, it's a mighty shame but understandable. Still looking forward to seeing you lot in Wells on Friday!

  • Comment number 13.

    Thanks Ben. Yes, the team is certainly moving in the right direction. With Cav, I don't know. It would be great if he came to Sky!!

    Thanks R_Fitz, I hope to be up there as well. We certainly have a good team to do something.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Geraint,

    You alluded to it briefly in your blog, but how much do people cheering from the sides make a difference? Your next stage runs along some fairly remote country roads, do you have a chance to feel lonely on the road, or with the team surrounding you, if you feel alone you are probably way in front or way behind? Also, how much prep goes into analysing the routes, does the detail get down to potential wet cattle grids!

  • Comment number 15.

    Great stage yesterday - loved the tactical racing up Caerphilly hill. You were unlucky on that final bend but the fact that you were in that leading group still keeps you in a great position.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Geraint, was very shocked to see your crash in Langport on Friday, and it was a huge shame that neither yourself nor Cav could get involved in the final burst for the line but nonetheless to see you both rolling over the line in short order was wonderful!

    About your crash, did you feel anybody was at fault over what happened, because it seemed to me that Pieter Ghyllebert cut right across the front of yourself and your Sky Teammate who I can't recall, which left you nowhere to go but into the gap in the middle of the road where Bibby didn't see you. I'm just glad that you're ok, as it is a huge shame for Bibby with the broken collarbone.

    You still all well and fit enough for the Worlds?

  • Comment number 17.

    You have had a fantastic year starting off with us in Adelaide, I have your autograph on my TDU hat! Anyhow, with the Olympics, what are the chances of you coming back to us in Adelaide next year? Will all your training until the Olympics be track racing? Please say you will come back to us...go on! You know you need some sun in January!
    Stay safe.

  • Comment number 18.

    G,

    British cycling in general, and the Sky team in particular, have had a fantastic season, culminating in Alex Dowsett's victory today. Yet the UK's biggest news provider had minimal coverage of the Giro, Tour de France and the Vuelta, and has paid even less attention to the Tour of Britain, both online and on air. What difference do you think it would make to the future of British cycling if the BBC were more committed to raising the profile of the sport? Your blog over the summer has been a great start but ...

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi Geraint,

    Just wanted to say really well done on taking the points competition in the Tour of Britain. Hope that it makes up somewhat for the disappointment of missing out on being able to challenge for gold after Friday's crash.
    Glad that you were not seriously injured and will be a part of the GB WC squad. Good luck to you and the rest of the British riders. I hope that Cav can win it - and it would be fantastic to see him in a Team Sky rainbow jersey next year!

 

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