TOUR DE FRANCE FLYER BACK TO TREAD THE NEWPORT BOARDS

2 Aug 2007

GERAINT THOMAS WITH YOUNG CYCLISTSGeraint Thomas’ results back up his reputation. Widely touted as one of the brightest young cycling talents in Britain, the 21-year-old can now add a Tour de France finish to his World Senior Track Championship gold and his Commonwealth Games bronze medals.

Just days after becoming the first Welshman in 40 years to finish the gruelling 2,206-mile Tour de France, the Cardiff born cycling star swapped the summits of the Alps for the high speed boards of the Newport Velodrome as he made a pit stop to meet the Welsh track stars of the future - each one eager to follow in his slipstream.

Wales’ lead out man was on hand at the state-of-the-art lottery funded facility as youngsters from the local area took to the track for the first time for Welsh Cycling’s introductory course to track cycling, ‘Attack the Track’.

And the gathered throng listened intently as he imparted tales of his meteoric rise to the pinnacle of world cycling together with anecdotes from his gargantuan efforts on his 20-stage tussle across the Channel – a trek which has underlined his emergence onto the world stage in no uncertain terms.

Thomas finished 140th - nearly four hours behind winner Alberto Contador – but crossing the finish line at the Champs-Elysee was always going to be the target for the Welshman.

"I couldn't see the point in going home after a few days, it was always in my mind to try to finish and it's awesome to be at the end.

"I couldn't imagine what it would be like before, but I wanted to get stuck in and see what it was all about, I don't think you can imagine how hard, fast and chaotic it is out there until you actually do it."

Thomas was the youngest rider on Le Tour – and that very fact afforded him a very special status – Benjamin du Tour – with his results highlighted in the press every day and the cameras picking him out whenever possible.


His exploits on the road may have raised his profile across the continent and his high speed success on the boards of the Velodrome may have earned him the coveted rainbow jersey reserved for World Champions. But it was his stellar attitude to the French test that saw him gain the firm stamp of approval from his own British Cycling stablemate Bradley Wiggins, who also took to the Tour terrain.

GERAINT THOMAS

Wiggins – who was part of the Team Pursuit quartet that saw Thomas win his first senior World Track Championship gold medal earlier this year – is quick to heap the praise on the youngster.

"The real heroes of Le Tour are someone like Geraint Thomas, who has dragged himself over the mountains on just bread and water."

Indeed, Thomas is no stranger to heroic efforts.

A freak training accident in Sydney in early 2005 scuppered Thomas’ plans to make an impact on the senior stage for the first time when he needed surgery to remove his spleen after a metal bar struck his team-mate’s bike, causing Thomas to crash into his handlebars.

He has since gone on to win a bronze for his home nation in the men's 40km Points Race at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games as well as the World Team Pursuit silver medal secured at last year’s World Championships in Bordeaux. Add to that a silver in the Men’s Madison alongside Rob Hayles at the World Cup event in Manchester earlier this year, a team pursuit gold in the Moscow World Track Cup and World Track Cycling Championships in Palma, Majorca – and it appears as though Thomas barely has time to digest his own success.

He is also a winner of the junior Paris-Roubaix title – the grinding annual road and cobblestone classic in northern France and Belgium – and he finished third in the mountains competition in the junior Giro, the Tour of Italy.

And with the Beijing Olympic Games just over a year away, Thomas will undoubtedly be looking to add yet another accolade to that burgeoning trophy cabinet.

Cllr Ron Jones, Cabinet Member for Culture and Recreation at Newport City Council who own and manage the National Velodrome said:

'We would like to congratulate Geraint for his tremendous achievement and are delighted that he is visiting the Velodrome to meet and inspire the young cyclists taking part in the track activities.

"There are track cycling sessions from beginners to advanced taking place throughout the summer holidays at the Velodrome".

For further information, please contact Lynette Evans at the Sports Council for Wales on /

NOTES TO EDITORS

Geraint Thomas is a lottery funded Elite Cymru talent.

Elite Cymru is a Sports Council for Wales scheme aimed at providing the most highly promising competitors in Wales with the support they need to achieve their potential.