HOW TO MASTER ALL TRADES LIKE… GERAINT THOMAS
Britain’s 2018 Tour de France champion has learned the hard way to become the man for all stages
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.
KEY TO THIS VERSATILITY IS TO TRAIN FOR ALL TYPES OF SITUATIONS