Let’s hear it for Geraint Thomas! Seriously, the Team Sky rider has performed heroics in this year’s Tour de France despite sustaining a fracture to his pelvis in a crash on day one.
Cycling in general, and the Tour de France in particular, is full of stories of hardnuts who carry on pedalling despite everything. Everyone remembers Johnny Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha getting knocked off their bikes by a car in the 2011 Tour, to take an example from recent history, Hoogerland ending up in a barbed wire fence, yet both were patched up and carried on racing. Geraint Thomas’s efforts over the past few days have earned him a similar place in Tour folklore.
This is Cardiff-born Thomas’s fourth Tour de France, his highest placing having been 31st overall in 2011 when riding in support of Bradley Wiggins. He’d probably have finished higher still but that was the year Wiggo came off and broke his collarbone, and Thomas waited with his team leader while the damage was assessed. He missed last year’s race having returned to the track following the Giro d’Italia to focus on the Olympics – a decision that raised eyebrows among some in the pro cycling world.
In London, of course, he was an integral part of the GB team that won the 4000m Team Pursuit, adding to the gold he took in the same event in Beijing and setting a fourth world record in the process. Still only 27 years old, he has three senior world championship titles behind him on the track along with a national road race title from 2010.
The pelvis damage happened on day one of this year’s Tour. Thomas predicted last week in an interview with the BBC that the first Corsican stage – a mass start road stage rather than a prologue – would be messy with riders who wouldn’t normally be in with a shout going all-out for the maillot jaune.
“I think it is going to be carnage,” he said. “It is a bit of a nightmare of a start because a lot can go wrong.”
And it did. Thomas was involved in a crash – a spectacular one – and although initial X-rays didn’t reveal any bone damage, more medical attention after stage two found that he’d sustained a fracture to his pelvis.
Some of us might have ridden with broken bones in the past but probably not a bust pelvis and probably not in the Tour de France. Thomas is clearly in severe pain and has described the past few days as his most difficult ever on the bike.
Yesterday morning Thomas needed help to get onto the bike but he still finished the stage… admittedly right at the back of the field but, come on, the guy has a serious injury. Then he revealed on TV that his mum had told him he should pull out of the race. Maybe she's right.
Today, Thomas raced the team time trial with the rest of Team Sky, and rather than struggling to make the cutoff time like many had expected, he only dropped off the back for the final kilometre once he’d put in a big shift. Thomas isn't the only one either. Tony Martin was concussed on Saturday, lost consciousness, and was stretchered on to the Omega Pharma-Quick Step coach, yet he was still out there pushing a huge gear for his team earlier today.
If Geraint Thomas does need to pull out of the Tour at some point, who could blame him? He’s already done enough to earn a reputation as one of the Tour’s toughest riders.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.