Exclusive: A mid-Tour de France interview with Geraint Thomas
Spare a thought for Geraint Thomas. As every cycling season reaches its climax with the Tour de France, he can’t escape the sport that made him a household name, pressed down by the accumulated public weight of expectation.
It’s almost oppressive. Cycling fans flood into his DMs, they subtweet him, they offer tactical advice and sometimes – cruelly – they tell him his days as a GC contender are over.
There are all the questions, too. So many questions! Does he have the kick to contend with the Pogs and the Rogs of the world? Is he feeling alright after that touch of wheels? Can he make back the time he just lost? Can he recommend them a bike? Is he ever going to win the Tour de France again?
All year long: tweets and Instagram messages in their thousands. It’s just one of the side-effects of being one of British cycling’s most cherished stars and a Tour de France champion.
There’s just one problem. They’ve got the wrong guy.
See that person cycling on tv? See how he wasn’t on Twitter? Now that’s either my incredible multi-tasking at hand, or my absurdly good skills of illusion and trickery, or a good reminder that I’m not him. I’ll let you figure that one out.— Geraint Thomas (@geraintthomas) June 26, 2021
Since 2009, when Internationally Known Bicycle Cyclist Geraint Thomas was still riding for Barloworld – before Team Sky (or Ineos, or the Grenadiers) even existed – another Welshman called Geraint Thomas has held the Twitter handle @geraintthomas. And as the cycling Geraint’s star has risen, The Other Geraint has been forced to grapple with a sport that he’s got no particular interest in. Meanwhile, @geraintthomas86 – the one with the blue tick and the yellow jersey – valiantly competes for the glory of Wales, Britain, and Jim Ratcliffe’s silly derivative 4WD.
Now it’s time for a confession: I’ve been slyly watching this happen for a couple of years with a voyeur’s fascination. In fact, I reckon a whole subset of the cycling world has. This absurd situation is, after all, a victim-free, low-stakes diversion from the maelstrom of the world’s biggest bike race. Even better, The Other Geraint Thomas gets that it’s funny, and is pretty funny himself.
So this year, after Bicycle Geraint Thomas hit the deck (again) and The Other Geraint Thomas responded with a terrific meme (again), I decided it was time to get in touch: to find out what it is to be mistaken for a world famous cyclist and Grand Tour winner multiple times a day. To try to understand what it is to 100% be Geraint Thomas, but simultaneously not ever be Geraint Thomas enough, and absolutely not the correct Geraint Thomas.
CyclingTips: When did the confusion with Bicycle Geraint Thomas really take off?
The Other Geraint Thomas: For as long as I can remember being on Twitter I’ve had the confusion. [It was] a little confusing at first as I had no idea that there was another Geraint that was famous, so getting random comments from strangers asking about my wellbeing was a little odd. Endearing at first, then plain weird, then creepy … and then the penny dropped.
You seem to take it with pretty good humour … has it ever been annoying, or a problem, or have you always been able to take it in your stride? Did 2018 bring you to the brink?
I did have a moment where I thought that it would start to grind on me, which funnily enough the cyclist Geraint has put in his first book, including a few of my early outbursts of not being a cyclist.
Then 2018 happened [when Bicycle Cyclist Geraint Thomas won the Tour] and I didn’t have much choice … I was now known as ‘the other’ Geraint. Charming, but it’s all fun and games. Well it is for me, the other one is going through blood, sweat and tears, while I reply to his misdirected comments.
So this is what it’s like to be famous.— Geraint Thomas (@geraintthomas) July 29, 2018
Is July the peak month for your Twitter mentions, or does it trickle in year-round?
June/July is peak turn-off-your-phone month, but things do come through all year round. It’s not just Twitter mind, it’s Instagram too; I have the same handle across most of my social media platforms.
Has Bicycle Geraint Thomas or his management ever been in touch to try to acquire your Twitter handle?
Quite the opposite. I contacted Team Sky (at the time) to see if he wanted the handle to save confusion. They replied by stating that he’s well acquainted with his current handle and that it wouldn’t be necessary. A week or so later, Team Sky themselves tweeted me by accident. I wish they could have seen my face.
Oh shit. https://t.co/w8FWeWgPqf— Geraint Thomas (@geraintthomas) October 1, 2020
Have you picked up any insight into cycling by osmosis, or is it utterly baffling?
Both. It’s baffling, but seems to tick all of the boxes for something that I’d enjoy. Racing, scenery, mechanics and a passionate following, so I technically should like it. My brother-in-law and my Dad are both fans and it’s usually through them that I catch glimpses of cycling. As much as I say I’m not into cycling, I do find myself not wanting to look away.
Okay, I’ll bite. The TDF looks quite interesting. When things get back to normal, someone needs to sit me down and talk me through cycling racing. I don’t know my arse from my elbow with anything to do with it at the moment.— Geraint Thomas (@geraintthomas) June 28, 2021
When you’re not not winning the Tour de France, what is your profession and what are your interests?
I’m a university lecturer by profession and teach Visual Effects at the University of South Wales, after having worked in the TV industry in multiple TV studios since 2010. Truth be told, my job is one of my main passions and is somewhat of a dream job, so I do consider myself lucky to be in the position that I am.
Outside of work I’m a big motorsport fan, and am currently putting together a track car to participate in track driving/racing myself. So technically there’s two Geraint’s that race, but one’s got two more wheels and smaller calves. I’ve a number of other hobbies and interests but for fear of falling asleep on your keyboard, I’ll end it here.
Let’s get some FAQ’s out of the way:— Geraint Thomas (@geraintthomas) June 24, 2021
– Yes I’d quite enjoy a tour of France
– No I can’t recommend a bike to you
– Yes I own a jersey somewhere
– No I generally don’t get tired after climbing hills
– Yes my legs are just fine thanks
– No, nothing’s occurrin’
Do you have any questions about our silly little sport?
An endless amount. Why isn’t a ‘peloton’ called a ‘peddle-ton’? How do they pee mid-race with the amount that they drink? Do they drink water or energy drinks? Does the car up front cause a slipstream? I could go on, but with my current cycling knowledge I may need a notepad and a crayon to understand.