‘I realised I still had my gilet on’: When it rains it pours for Thomas at Tour TT

"That was the worst first half of a time trial I've ever done."

by Jonny Long

photography by Getty Images

As the rain began to really tip it down on the Copenhagen time trial course, Ineos Grenadiers’ Geraint Thomas rolled out of the start hut. “I’ve got a bit of a reputation I guess,” Thomas said, his falls part of his lore by this point, and after many others had already taken a tumble, the Welshman was very aware of the peril that lay ahead for him in the opening stage of the 2022 Tour de France.

“That was the worst first half of a time trial I’ve ever done,” Thomas admitted after the finish. “I wanted to start fairly conservatively power-wise but you know when everyone is telling you ‘go easy on the corners, it’s three weeks, don’t crash,’ because there were a lot of crashes apparently. I was warming up so I didn’t see. And that was just in my head. The first few corners I cornered like my wife and she hasn’t ridden a bike in 12 years. Unbelievable.”

But that wasn’t the only problem.

“And then I realised I still had my gilet on.”

Some may have thought this the latest technological innovation from the Ineos Grenadiers, but no.

“Not at all,” Thomas said. “I zipped it up, it was nice and snug and then I didn’t realise. The guy at the start didn’t notice, not that it was his fault. Once I went through that time check and I knew I was 18 seconds down or something I just took the pin out then, like, sod it. Let’s go. And then it actually went alright, the legs were good which was the main thing, but like I said, the cornering was just absolutely terrible. Just overthought it big time. It just wasn’t flowing. You know in the wet the best thing you can do is just flow and carry that speed nice and smooth. You don’t have to go quick you just have to maintain that speed a bit.”

Despite a disappointing effort against the clock, Thomas lost only 10 seconds to Jumbo-Visma’s Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard and a further 8 to defending champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), leaving the 2018 Tour champ with conflicting feelings about the opening stage.

“Yeah, but I also know I could have done a better ride and you always want more,” Thomas said. “But as I say, you’ve got to try and take the positive which was the legs were good. And I was warm, maybe everyone else will get cold now, I don’t know.

“For me it’s best when I take the pin out but I guess when I say that some people get scared because I’ve got a bit of a reputation, I guess.”

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