Bri­tain’s 2018 Tour de France cham­pion has learned the hard way to be­come the man for all stages

Cycling Plus - - BIKE FIT -

Geraint Thomas’s ver­sa­til­ity, re­silience and never-say-die com­mit­ment to the cause helped Bradley Wig­gins, Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome se­cure big vic­to­ries, while also en­sur­ing there’s been no limit to Sky’s suc­cess. This time around the rider who Sir Dave Brails­ford ear­marked as one who could ‘do ev­ery­thing’ has got his just desserts, but it wasn’t al­ways the way.

The learn­ing curve has been a tough one since fin­ish­ing in last place on his Tour de­but in 2007, but it’s also been a fruit­ful one. Thomas took two Olympic track gold medals (2008 and 2012 team pur­suits) plus a Com­mon­wealth Games Road Race ti­tle and three World Cham­pi­onship team golds prior to this year’s tri­umph.

After fin­ish­ing in last place on that very first tour Thomas de­vel­oped the men­tal strength, phys­i­cal lean­ness and ver­sa­til­ity re­quired to cy­cle fe­ro­ciously on the cob­bles while be­com­ing a stronger all-round rider and ex­plo­sive sprinter when the time is right.

START YOUNG Thomas ex­em­pli­fies the ben­e­fits gleaned when you start rid­ing com­pet­i­tively at a young age. He took off at 10, at a lo­cal velo­drome, and was a mem­ber of var­i­ous clubs where he honed his group rid­ing skills.

MIX IT UP Thomas rode track as well as road grow­ing up. He was World and Olympic cham­pion in the team pur­suit and as a ju­nior he won ParisRoubaix. Mix­ing up your style of rid­ing is key to be­com­ing an all-round rider. Rid­ing off-road, ei­ther moun­tain bike or cy­clo-cross, will im­prove your han­dling skills. Rid­ing track will im­prove sprint, pac­ing and speed control.

PACK IT IN That’s your bike into a box. Thomas com­peted at World Cup events around the world. Rid­ing in dif­fer­ent coun­tries will ex­pose you to dif­fer­ent cul­tures, rid­ing con­di­tions and styles. Rac­ing in Bel­gium teaches rid­ers about how to po­si­tion ef­fec­tively in a pelo­ton, mas­ter­ing the art of shel­ter­ing from winds. The Alps teach cy­clists how to pace long climbs and per­fect tech­ni­cal de­scend­ing.

CROSS TRAIN An­other of Thomas’s virtues is his abil­ity to ride strongly in dif­fer­ent types of races and at dif­fer­ent times dur­ing an event. Key to this ver­sa­til­ity is to train for all types of sit­u­a­tions. Hav­ing ex­cep­tional

en­durance fit­ness is the foun­da­tion. Make sure that you can put out a con­sis­tent level of steady state power for time tri­alling, make sure that you train for those max aer­o­bic ef­forts needed when clos­ing down a break and al­ways train your sprint. Too many rid­ers don’t do enough of the hard stuff and as a re­sult get stuck in one gear.

BUILD EX­PLO­SIVE­NESS To build up the kind of ex­plo­sive mus­cle fi­bres needed to em­u­late Thomas’s sprint prow­ess look to in­clude short ses­sions in your train­ing too. Do­ing lots of in­ter­vals – like 30 sec­onds on, 30 sec­onds off, or 1 minute on, 30 sec­onds off – early on in a ses­sion, when you’re fresh, will train the sprint mus­cles ef­fec­tively.


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