By common consent Geraint Thomas winning the Tour de France is the best thing that has happened to cycling in a long while, a real game-changer that might hopefully cause some to ponder. For too long now cycling – which is manifestly not without its problems – has been hijacked by self-obsessed opinion-makers using the sport as an Aunt Sally and employing gossip, hearsay and incorrect information to vilify certain individuals.
The trolls though are having a complete ‘mare’ with Thomas because the Welshman is totally trusted and respected throughout the sport and among opposition riders and other team bosses, many of whom were rooting for him throughout the final week in France.
Those bosses have noted his numerous ‘man-of-the-match’ performances in support of others for a decade or more as he dragged his exhausted carcass over the line behind his team’s bigger names. They have offered Thomas a king’s ransom to sign for them but the Welshman has remained loyal to Team Sky and the British system.
Thomas is vey publicly and unapologetically the product of the GB Road Academy that Rod Ellingworth set up and then the GB track programme under Dave Brailsford and Shane Sutton that garnered an avalanche of gold medals. At two Olympics Thomas was a major engine in the GB Team Pursuit squads that broke world records for fun. And that dedication to the Team Pursuit and “to the guys” probably put him back four years as a Grand Tour rider. Ever the team man.
For the past nine seasons Thomas has been a constant at Team Sky. He defends them fiercely and his loyalty and continuing belief in their methods adds much validity. If there is no doubting Thomas it becomes extremely problematical trashing his cycling DNA and associates
There were always been big characters in front of him. Bradley Wiggins was a maverick and versatile talent signed specifically to deliver publicity, profile and a first British Tour win for a start-up team. Chris Froome was/is a supreme endurance athlete to build a dynasty around, but Thomas demonstrates the value of application, method, science and belief. And luck. After a career punctured with bad luck, the pendulum finally swung for Thomas this year
All this is agonising for the trolls, especially after the attempted trashing of Froome was exposed when he was exonerated in a salbutamol ‘case’ that never was. Incorrect data on a non-performance-enhancing medicine mischievously leaked by somebody at the UCI. A WADA testing system disowned by its embarrassed inventor. It never passed the sniff test.
The full story about Wiggins and his justified, and UCI/WADA/UKAD-approved, use of TUEs – the complete opposite of doping – on just three occasions during his 20-year career will at some stage make its way into the public arena. As will, eventually, the fact that Team Sky were the most sparing users of TUEs in the entire peloton’s history. #trollsontherun