Interview – Stellar Day for Geraint Thomas


Paul Burgoine talks to E3 winner Welsh rider Geraint Thomas who did what many knew he could do – win a classic Belgian race

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Interview – Stellar Day for Geraint Thomas

“I think this is the biggest win for me”


A rider who has selflessly ridden for others over the years at Team Sky had his day in Belgium on Friday when Welsh rider Geraint Thomas won the long running classic E3 Harelbeke. Thomas attacked from the peloton on the Oude Kwaremont and then dropped no less than Zdenek Stybar and Peter Sagan in the final four kilometres before going solo to win his third race of the season.

On a day when crashes destroyed the classic hopes of many a rider including Fabian Cencellera, Thomas steered clear of trouble during the early stages and only around 30 riders remained when he stamped hard on the pedals 38km from home. Only Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx – Quick-Step) could go with him and he pressed on over the remained cobbled climbs.

Looking the strongest in the break, Thomas wasn’t going to take anyone to the finish line and soon left them choking on his dust as he opened up half a minute on them as he solo’d to victory.

Immediately after the stage he said: “I can’t quite believe it. That last attack took me back to my track days and I imagined I was trying to hold Ed Clancy’s wheel in the team pursuit. I felt pretty good during the second half of the race and committed at the end. It was hard out there. The three of us worked well together and I wasn’t sure if they were bluffing a bit near the end – panting and pulling faces – but fortunately they weren’t, and it was great for me”.

“This six-week period we’re in from Paris-Nice to Paris-Roubaix is my big focus of the season. The way Paris-Nice finished was disappointing, but I felt good again at Milan-San Remo, and to get the win now is really special.”


Asked was the attack planned, Geraint replied “Yes, that was my last hope. I put all my cards on the table, my wining move. I didn’t expect the win as I thought Sagan was bluffing. I didn’t expect this, I’m over the moon, there is a lot of confidence in me from the team.”

“You know when you make an attack in a few races and it sticks, you feel good and it gives you momentum. I think the whole team is going well this year. I’ve just been told ‘Swifty’ won today and ‘Richie’ has a jersey. Everyone says it but it’s true, you fire off each other and now the whole team is on a role its great.”

When it was put to him that in 2014, the team did not fulfil there expectations, Geraint replied “for me, I think I had a good year, but yeah as a team, the performances was below what we wanted. But this year we have certainly turned it around.”

Geraint explained how important the win is saying “I think this is the biggest win for me. I won a stage Down Under but you look at the past winners of this race, well mainly Boonen and Cancellera recently, but you have some super winners of the race. I think the Olympics is the Olympics but on the road this is a huge win.”

The former British road race champion has for a long time showed so much potential, and whether its team orders or bad luck that has stopped him from doing these rides more often only Thomas knows. But, the Commonwealth Games champion says “The last few years I’ve had a couple of falls and things but that’s part and parcel of the race. I mean you saw Cancellara go down today – you just need some luck in these races.“

The loss of Boonen after a fall and now Cancellera, means the classics will be robbed of two of the classics biggest stars. Asked how will the loss of Boonen and Cancellara change the races, Thomas replied “I think everyone has a chance anyway, but yes it opens it up to everyone but now they not around, everyone will believe they can win. I mean they’re legends. Of the rest, BMC, Quickstep and ourselves are strong.”

A race that Thomas has performed well in over the years is the Monument, Tour of Flanders. When asked what marker does victory this lay down for him ahead of Flanders, Geraint says “I think confidence wise, its great to ride like a team as we did to today. It’s been great with Stannard winning Het Niewsblad again and Elia Viviani third in KBK so we’ll just have to get stuck in to the classics with no pressure. When Bradley steps into the team, it can only be a positive for us and hopefully, we can take a few guys into the last 50k of races, and have more than one card to play.”

Geraint was then asked, is the difference this year, that you have more stronger riders? “Yeah, we have learnt a lot together. Luke has stepped up now, Bernie on the road is a great captain and Puchio too. The whole thing flows well. I think with us staying on the front, it limits the bad luck.”

Asked has he lost any weight since last year, Geraint replied “I’m similar to what I was last year which is hard when there is ‘Specalous’ on the table for breakfast lunch and dinner so I try and avoid them! But after Roubaix, I might put on a few pounds that I will need to shed for the Tour.”
Its another big day for British and Welsh cycling? “Yeah. Its been great all the kids coming through. I know for me, seeing Nicole Cooke and thinking oh she only lives down the road in Wick, if she can do it, I can do it, so a lot of young kids see us doing well will help the sport and the future looks bright”

Finally, Thomas was asked, for a Welshman, what does the Tour Of Flanders mean, and he replied “Oh, its huge. I grew up watching these races, travelling over to Belgium with John Barclay in the back of his car with Stannard. We used to go round his house on Friday and watch Belgium races on DVD. I’ve grown up wanting to be apart of these races so winning today is just fantastic.”

1 Geraint Thomas, Team Sky 5:15:00
2 Zdenek Stybar, Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:25
3 Matteo Trentin, Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:38
4 Alexander Kristoff, Team Katusha
5 Sep Vanmarcke, Team LottoNL-Jumbo
6 Matti Breschel, Tinkoff-Saxo
7 Jurgen Roelandts, Lotto Soudal
8 Jack Bauer, Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
9 Jens Keukeleire, Orica GreenEdge
10 Daniel Oss, BMC Racing Team

13 Luke Rowe, Team Sky
19 Edvald Boasson Hagen, MTN – Qhubeka
20 Sylvain Chavanel, IAM Cycling
24 Dylan Van Baarle, Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
25 John Degenkolb, Team Giant-Alpecin
26 Ian Stannard, Team Sky 0:00:46
30 Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo 0:01:14
88 Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing Team 0:06:44

DNF Andrew Fenn,Team Sky
DNF Adam Blythe, Orica GreenEdge
DNF Nairo Quintana, Movistar Team
DNF Fabian Cancellara, Trek Factory Racing

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