Tour de France: Geraint Thomas to ride on through pain with Olympics in mind – The Guardian

Geraint Thomas plans to continue his racing career until the Paris Olympics in 2024, despite a hugely disappointing performance in this years Tour de France. The 2018 Tour champion, who dislocated his shoulder on stage three of the Tour, admitted that prior to Sunday mornings second Alpine stage to Tignes, he had come close to quitting the French race.

I think if I hadnt bounced back as I did on Sunday, it would be more of a discussion, the leader of the Ineos Grenadiers team said during the Tours first rest day in Tignes. But its the Tour, its the biggest bike race in the world and I didnt want to just leave.

But the 35-year-old Welshman admitted that he had to go deep to survive last weekends pair of Alpine stages, which were dominated by the uncontainable attacks of the current race leader, Tadej Pogacar.

I go deep with everything, whether thats a bike race or going out on the piss, Thomas said. Thats just the way I am. I am not one to give up easily, which is the reason I started the stage on Sunday. To be honest, I thought: This is just going to be the same as Saturday, but you fight and give it everything, and then suddenly you can turn it around and come out better.

The pain from the injury is a lot better now its more just the pain in my legs. Its more that getting through those early days took a lot more out of me than it normally would. It was that cumulative effect of digging in, which wears you out. But the shoulders not really painful now. Its just dealing with the fatigue and racing the Tour.

But as UAE Team Emirates leader Pogacar ran riot, to the point where his Spanish rival, Enric Mas of Movistar, described being overtaken by the 22-year-old as if he didnt exist, Thomas instead spent Saturday and Sunday pondering whether to stay in the Tour or go home.

Its the whole Olympic thing, weighing up whats best, he said referring to the proximity of the Tours finish on 18 July to the Tokyo Olympics a week later. To be honest, I think its six and two threes. Staying here, Ive got massage and physio, a chef and obviously everything is looked after. I can go easy some days, I can go deeper others.

Training-wise, thats ideal. The only thing is the quick turnaround from Paris to travelling out there [to Japan]. But it was good for my head to have a better day on Sunday because during stage eight [to Le Grand-Bornand] my head was in a bucket, to be honest. It was tough to take.

Nonetheless, Thomas has not ruled out leaving the Tour before it reaches Paris with the aim of allowing greater recovery time prior to flying out to Tokyo.

I thought I could go full tilt at both, he said, but obviously the overall, or even the podium, is off the cards. I still think its possible to finish, but Ive just got to take it day by day. There are still some great opportunities for myself and the team. So play it by ear really, but hopefully I will just continue to feel better.

Pogacar, who leads the Tour overall from Sundays stage winner, Ben OConnor, by 2min 1sec, could be heading towards one of the biggest winning margins in recent years, if he continues to ride so voraciously. At the moment, there is little that Tour debutant OConnor of the AG2R Citron team, Ineos Grenadiers or Thomas can do to rein in the defending champion.

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Thomas is now just under 40 minutes behind the race leader, with hopes of even a top-10 finish now long gone. But the Welshman remains bullish.

Hopefully, Ill feel like I can go for a stage and just enjoy the racing because Im not going to have many more Tours in me, he said. This isnt the last Tour, but the contracts up this year and the Paris Olympics would be a nice final goal, so maybe three more years. But theres certainly a couple more Tours in there.

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Tour de France: Geraint Thomas to ride on through pain with Olympics in mind - The Guardian

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