For many people, Geraint Thomas was the surprise of last year’s Tour de France. He had gone into the race as joint leader with Chris Froome with Team Sky. Having spent years as a loyal lieutenant, he’d be a protected rider.
While Froome had triumphed in the Giro d’Italia earlier in the year, to become holder of all three Grand Tours simultaneously, he had been battling an adverse analytical finding regarding his use of salbutamol in the run up to the Tour de France when he was hoping to join the rare club of riders who’d won the Tour five times.
Thomas’ book, as with his previous one, has been ghost written by Tom Fordyce, and was quickly written in the aftermath of Thomas’ perhaps unexpected Tour win.
As things would transpire, Thomas, the man who always fell off his bike at inopportune moments, or would have a bad day when you simply can’t have a bad day, managed to get around France without coming off, and avoiding a bad day. Unlike his putative co-leader, who was perhaps feeling the pressure of the salbutamol case and fatigue from his Giro win, Thomas would go on to win two stages, including on Alpe d’Huez, that most iconic of Tour mountains.
Perhaps the most interesting parts of the book are the little niggles that Thomas had with a team who perhaps wasn’t treating him as quite as equal as Froome. In one case, he was told that if he came down the team would not wait for him. At another time, when the hotel they were staying in didn’t have a strong enough electricity circuit to support air conditioners in every room, only Froome was allowed one (Thomas put one on anyway).
Of course things changed, and Froome finally acquiesced knowing that he couldn’t win. He’d be supporting Thomas by the end – his dreams of winning a fifth Tour having to wait for another year. (In fact, he had a bad crash at the Dauphiné and is missing the 2019 Tour, where Thomas is once again co-leader with his young teammate Egan Bernal.
The book is a pacy read – with a few stories scattered around – some of which will be familiar. There are the odd short chapters written by people like Sara, his wife, and Dave Brailsford, boss of Team Sky (and now Team Ineos).
The tone is very much Thomas’s, with plenty of humourous asides, references to Arsenal and rugby union, and the general disbelief that he’s in the position that he finds himself.
Publishing deadlines meant that it didn’t really get into much of what happened post-Tour, when Thomas got to experience life as a Tour de France winner and generally enjoying the lifestyle that comes with it. Nor do we learn of his Sports Personality of the Year win against the likes of Harry Kane.
Reading this book right now is interesting in light of the fact that during the 2018 Tour, few really gave Thomas much chance. Then going into this year’s Tour, the smart money seemed to be on Bernal rather than Thomas. As we’ve yet to get into the high mountains, it’s too early to say either way. Thomas crashed out of the Tour de Suisse and has raced very little so far this season. Yet you can’t help but notice that he’s strong again. Can he win back to back Tours? It’s too early to say, but I wouldn’t be counting him out.