Games – Gold for Geraint Thomas


Olympic & World Champion Geraint Thomas adds Commonwealth Gold to his many triumphs in a wet and windy road race in Glasgow (Scotland) on Sunday

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Games – Gold for Geraint Thomas

There was a dramatic end to the Men’s Road Race at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday when Geraint Thomas attacked his final two rivals with a lap to go of the Glasgow course only to puncture the tyre on his front wheel.

Thomas had broken away earlier on the final lap and luckily for him, had already opened up a gap of over 40 seconds. The wheel change, thanks to UCI regs that the front fork ends have to have little tabs on them (to stop the wheel coming out!), took seemingly forever for Geraint and viewers of the race wanting him to win, but he calmly and professionally got back on his bike and charged to the line to win Gold.

Behind him, former Endura Racing riders, Jack Bauer, NZ and Scott Thwaites, England sprinted it out for the minor placings with the Kiwi just getting the better of the Yorkshire rider.

The win by Thomas sees him become the first male to win a Commonwealth Games cycling gold medal. Louise Jones and Nicole Cooke have however won cycling golds in 1990 and 2002 respectively.

In a scenario similar to the 2013 British Road Champs, an Isle of Man rider got itchy feet and put the hammer down early to go it alone. In 2013, it was Mark Cavendish but in 2014 it was Peter Kennaugh with ‘Cav’ his DS in the Isle of Man team car.

The British Road Race Champion was reeled in with just under 50km of the 168km race to go by the three medallists and behind them the race was now in bits with the majority of the riders already showered and watching the race on TV.

That says a lot about the pace Kennaugh had set out front alone and the damage that was done by the various chases, not just by small chase groups but by the national teams of Australia and New Zealand. Peter Kennaugh ended up leading the men’s 120-mile road race for eight of the 12 laps.

He later admitted that it hadn’t been the team plan to go off the front so early, but said: “I went on the outside, not much quicker than the peloton, but no-one else reacted. I expected a few guys to come with me, but it didn’t happen. I’m not particularly disappointed to lose out at the end. I came to the Commonwealth Games to enjoy myself and I still would have been happy if I was 20th or 30th” he told the Isle of Man Today.

That time out front alone in the rain and the cold and dodging umbrellas blowing away from their owners in the wind took its toll and he wasn’t able to hold the pace of the three leaders on some of the steep ‘bergs’ on the course on the closing laps and slipped back to a chase group to finish eighth.

Only 12 of the original 139 starters completed the full distance.

Geraint Thomas said afterwards “It was such a grim day and to be honest, I felt terrible at the start. I was thinking of stopping – I felt that bad – but luckily I got into it and everyone else seemed be at my level. When my move went, it was perfect and I was surprised how easily we went away”.

“When I had that front puncture I thought ‘What am I going to do?’, but fortunately I had a decent gap and managed to stay out in front. I’d stopped earlier on because my chain got tangled, and that wasn’t ideal either, but it was a good day in the end”.

“It’s unbelievable to win here. I never expected to win it. Coming off the Tour – I was tired at the end of that – and I thought it would be a massive challenge physically to get some results here, but the motivation was there and I was buzzing off the Team Wales set up”.

“The last time I rode for Wales was in Melbourne in 2006, so I committed to it, and to get a bronze in the time trial was a massive boost to the confidence. It showed I had recovered a bit, and then today I got stuck in and it all ended well.”

Scott Thwaits told BBC afterwards “the conditions were unbelievable. It was a great race and a great crowd. I knew Geraint was strong and we knew that an attack was coming. It was a matter of time. My legs were shot at the end, cramping from the wet and conditions. Jack is a super strong guy but I’m happy to be on the podium.”

Jack Bauer told the New Zealand Herald “When I attacked, of course gold was always the goal. But when I was joined by Thomas – he’s one of the classiest riders in the world, he’s really versatile, he’s good in all weather, and he’s just come off the Tour was well. So I knew that he would be a hard man to beat and that silver was probably going to be as good as I could get. When he attacked in the closing stages of the race I had no legs to follow,” Bauer added. “I had to do what I could to try and sow up a silver.”


Russell Downing said to the ‘Sports Mole’ “Some teams had to use their resources early on and really dig deep, as soon as it got to three laps to go only the strong could stay there. I was feeling good alongside Scott but I was not going to be able to bridge to [Geraint Thomas] when he went. But I managed to hang in there and get fourth so it’s not too bad. Scott and I knew it was our sort of course, we didn’t have that much of a gameplan really but to stay under the radar.”

Bad day for the Aussies
For the Australian team, the run of 16 years of dominating the race came to an end with Mark Renshaw the best in 5th, a place behind British based pro Russell Downing.

Renshaw, who is Mark Cavendish’s leadout man said to the Courier Mail afterwards “We all saw the weather and that made it really tough on this circuit, constantly breaking up and down and slippery roads.”

“Personally just no luck, we planned to make the moves happen at that stage, 50km to go and when Jack Bauer went, I went straight after him and Geraint Thomas came across … then I punctured. I had a really slow wheel change, a bad wheel, it wasn’t the normal spares we have in the pro team and that wrecked the day.”

A rider those watching the TV coverage will have seen chasing the three leaders alone was Caleb Ewan, who will make his debut with pro team Orica-GreenEDGE in RideLondon next week said to the Courier Mail “The course was pretty hard as it was and the weather made it that much harder. The speed was on all day and there was no point in the race where it shut down at all which made it tough “.

“It was sort of then or never and I had to go full gas to get across and unluckily I didn’t get there in the end and blew pretty big after that. It was my first Commonwealth Games and I wanted to finish”.

Summing up
Overall, to see the race won by Geraint Thomas was no surprise but there were some great performances that should not go unmentioned. Fourth for Russell Downing shows he is as strong as ever.

I’ve seen that from the motorbike in British domestic races but to then see him up against world tour riders and in the mix shows that it’s in Europe he should racing in. Scott Thwaites has not had the breaks this year from his trade team, not getting a ride in the Tour de France a massive disappointment but he too showed that Yorkshire grit that Downing did and came away with a Bronze medal. A World Tour team is where he should be as well.

Dan Craven rode stronger than I’ve seen him ride and but for a crash would have finished higher whilst a youngster Scott Davies is perhaps the best ride of all. Just out of the Junior ranks he’s racing with experienced WorldTour riders for the most part and held his own. Again, give the youngster a shot at WorldTour like the Yates got and see how he gets on.

Finally, in his last year in the pro ranks, Scotlands Dave Millar did a lot of laps of Glasgow to celebrate and grafted well to finish 11th.

Anyone who saw it will agree I expect, it was some race!

Above: Dan Craven

1. Geraint Thomas, Wales 4:13:05
2. Jack Bauer, New Zealand @1:21
3. Scott Thwaites, England
4. Russell Downing, England @4:29
5. Mark Renshaw, Australia
6. Luke Rowe, Wales @4:32
7. Greg Henderson, New Zealand @5:15
8. Peter Kennaugh, Isle of Man
9. Dan Craven, Namibia @9:03
10. Scott Davies, Wales @10:10
11. David Millar, Scotland @10:21
12. Caleb Ewan, Australia @11:22

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