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Getting my track legs back in the Olympic Velodrome

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Geraint Thomas | 10:10 UK time, Thursday, 16 February 2012

Going to the Olympic Velodrome is weird. I feel like we should get on a plane and fly off somewhere to get to the Games.

A track is a track, and as a team pursuit rider I'm on the track a lot. But the London Olympic Velodrome is special.

From the outside, driving in, it looks good. The track feels good, too. It's similar to Newport's velodrome, which is handy as we'll have a holding camp there before the Olympics.

Each track is built slightly differently - longer straights maybe, or bigger bends - and the Olympic Velodrome is like Newport in that it has the same shape, except perhaps not as steep and a little more round.

GB team pursuiters inside Olympic Velodrome

With Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Pete Kennaugh in the Olympic Velodrome. Photo: Getty Images

We had our first training session a few days ago ahead of this week's Track World Cup, which is also the Olympic test event. We got there early so we would have time to soak things up, see the building and take a look at the scenery.

But this week is hard. It's the Olympic track and everyone wants to ride it, and that means so many teams have come to the World Cup that things can get quite busy, especially in the team pursuit. 

It's exciting to see everyone here, but hard to get that feel for it when you have to keep your wits about you. If you go ploughing into the back of somebody, with more guys behind you, it can be dangerous.

Some things here could improve. The hotel, if we're honest, does a job but could be a lot better. It's little things. Sometimes I feel as though everything here is broken - the internet, the sauna - and you wouldn't expect that from London.

Those little things can make a difference. If you have the internet then you have a way to kill 15 minutes, replying to emails to take your mind off things, reminding you that you have a life and it's not all about one race.

And I find the sauna really helps me. I tend to bloat up sometimes, so before Beijing we got these electrode things which measure fluid retention in your body. If I had a sauna and a good sweat, the figures stayed down and my track performances reflected that.

That makes the sauna useful for me, so I've even got a portable one in my house. It's a small tent with a kettle-type thing and a pipe that my girlfriend bought me for Christmas. That was a hell of a present. Now, I wish I'd brought it with me.

My track legs are coming back and it's good to start going quick again, but I still have a lot more to come. As I do more on the road and start racing, my form is going to come up and up. I have a lot more track time ahead of me, too - I've only really had two weeks up until now. Even though we had a boot camp over the winter, I was ill for half of it.

But racing-wise there are potentially only four flat-out rides in competition, with a number on my back, remaining before the Olympics: two here at the World Cup, and two at the World Championships.

That's why so much emphasis is placed on this event. All the good teams are here and this is important for every one of them; we all want to do well and, psychologically, it feels great to beat other teams.

Throughout the winter we saw good team pursuit times posted by the Aussies, the Kiwis and the Russians, but they were always on their own without there being another good teams up against them. It will be good to get a sense of each other now.

We have talked about 2012 for ages but, beyond this weekend, I have the Paris-Nice road race, the track World Championships in Melbourne, the Giro d'Italia and then it's the end of May. Two months, and we're there.

Even in November the Olympics seemed far away. Now it's 2012 and I've started racing, it feels so much closer. 

This is my sixth year as a pro and it feels like I've only just started, it is crazy how quick the time goes. Before you know it, we're at the Games and it's all over.

I'm going to be 26 come the Games and in my prime on the track. Between now and then, it's worth giving it everything.


  • Comment number 1.

    Was at the Veledrome last night - a really fantastic evening and what an atmosphere!! This really bodes well for the Olympics and if you can get to any pre Olympic events it will be a great experience.

  • Comment number 2.

    Missing your personal sauna...deary me. Man up Geraint! There's pensioners unable to afford to keep their heating on!

  • Comment number 3.

    hmm I thought cyclists were supposed to be tough?! No internet or sauna in your heart bleeds! I wonder if Eddy Merckx ever had these things.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think it's safe to say that, no, Eddy Merckx didn't have the internet, though surely a sauna wouldn't have been beyond the realm of possibility for the great man. I think what he's talking about here is the usefulness of physical and mental preparation for top-level athletes. If he needs the internet to aid mental relaxation and a sauna to aid physical recovery then fine - they don't seem like immodest luxuries to me. I'm using the internet in my own house right now (obviously) and I could pop to my local swimming baths for a sauna. While of course I completely agree that it's a terrible scandal that there are people who can't afford heating, I don't think Geraint Thomas is the problem. Isn't it a tad embarrassing if we can't provide hotels for Olympic athletes with internet/sauna/gym whatever? If I stay at a Travelodge and they don't have these things I get annoyed, and I'm not being asked to compete for my country under the gaze of the whole world. The Chinese set the bar impossibly high for organisation and venues at the last Olympics, but we can at least provide things that most people staying at a hotel would take for granted. And I don't personally think we can tell anyone who's ridden the Tour de France (even a stage of it) to 'man up'! All the best of luck, Geraint, and the rest of Team GB!

  • Comment number 5.

    agree with bllhill. cyclists are certainly tough and as an amateur who's done a few tour stages I'm in no doubt of their physical and mental toughness. surely as observers we want the pros to be honest in their blogs (thank you geraint) and not have to worry that every post is going to be disected.

  • Comment number 6.

    PSM48: Yes the atmosphere was phenomenal. Definitely the best i have ever experienced!! It bodes well for the Games and will certainly be an advantage

    Mr3enn mpk1111: I was just saying the hotel had those things, but they were broken, which makes it worse in a way. We've found that a sauna helps my performance, along with all the training, nutrition etc. I'm sure if Eddie Merckx had all that science and knowledge in his day, he'd have used it as well... To be honest, along with the standard of food, it was embarrassing that London couldn't provide the teams with those 'simple' things.

    Thanks bullhill and cd, don't worry I'll still say what's on my mind. We (us
    pros) are used to getting a bit of stick on the net, part of the job.

  • Comment number 7.

    G, you seem to have a great PR team behind you. Just how important is it for an athlete to have PR support? Or can they do much like Tom Daley is being accused of doing?

  • Comment number 8.

    JohnT - I find it's good to take the stress off everything. All requests go to them and they can filter through anything that I can/can't/won't want to do. It's easier to say no to them as well, rather than someone else.

    As with doing too much, I see it that as long as it doesn't interfere with my training or rest, then it is ok. Rest is just as important as the training as that's when your body adapts and strengthens.

  • Comment number 9.

    I was just having a flippant joke Geraint, feel free to speak your mind!!! But having spent the night before an ironman in a tent getting 2 hours sleep, I went on to perform my best sometimes a little hardship can be good for you!

  • Comment number 10.

    You're right to complain about the food. How dreadful. Fred Trueman refused to bowl for Yorkshire unless the crusts had been trimmed from his cucumber sandwiches...

    Unflappable, stoic Welshmen mined coal and slate, farmed the hills and manufactured great things without a murmur of complaint.

    Hope your legs stay strong and you bring them back a gold medal to cheer about.


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