Tour De France Winner Geraint Thomas On His 50kph Crash

By THOMAS BARRIE
26 June 2019
Geraint Thomas, Tour de France, Cycling
After crashing on stage four of the Tour De Suisse, last year's winner is now back in training ahead of his Tour De France title defence

Last week, 2018 Tour De France winner and GQ cycling columnist Geraint Thomas was briefly hospitalised following a crash during stage four of the Tour De Suisse, coming off his bike at 50kmph just days after fellow Team Ineos cyclist Chris Froome was ruled out for six months in his own crash. Though his injuries required stitches and the risk of concussion forced him to withdraw from the race, Thomas has confirmed that he will be fit in time to defend his Tour De France title, which begins in just over two weeks. He spoke to GQ from his home in Monaco, where he had just finished his first hour back on a bike since last Tuesday’s crash.

GQ: Hi, Geraint. How are you feeling at the moment?
Geraint Thomas: I feel a bit better today – I think the worst day is always straight after the crash, you’ve still got the adrenaline and you’re in the hospital, so you don’t feel too bad, but I didn’t sleep very well, because I couldn’t sleep on my right side. My hip and my shoulder – that’s where I rammed it, and my face as well. So that was probably the worst day, especially because I had to fly back home to Monaco. Travelling is never the greatest anyway, let alone when you’ve just crashed at 50kph on your bike.

But today was OK – I just did a little hour on the bike and [had] no real concussion symptoms. So that’s all good. It was frustrating that I hit my head, because if I hadn’t, if I’d just had the other injuries, I would have been able to continue the race. The doctors are conscious of concussion at the moment – more so [after recent rugby and NFL evidence], I guess, and for good reason. The cut above my eye needed four stitches as well. So they stopped me from getting back on the bike and I went to hospital, got all that done, and had all the scans. Nothing else was broken or an issue, so it was a positive in an otherwise shit situation.

So you’re back at home now?
Yeah. There’s a guy that does massage for most of the pro guys around here – bike riders – so I can get a massage here and just rest up. [I can] get into a bit of routine now, of good sleep and training, and the rest of time I’m on the sofa to put my feet up and just recover.

When you go down like that, if it is a Tour-ending crash, can you feel how bad it is immediately? Or do you have to wait and see that the doctors say?
When you break a bone or something quite major, you know deep down; it doesn’t feel quite the same as normal. I didn’t feel too bad, really – it was when I could feel the blood and saw it dripping on the floor from my face [that] I knew the doc wouldn’t want me getting back on. Most of the time, you’re straight back on your feet, you look at a bike and you assess how you are once you’re going again. It’s the guys that don’t get up when you assume it’s something bad.

So it’s the frustration at not being able to continue? The pain’s the pain, but being out of the race is the worst thing?
It’s just the frustration of the guy crashing right in front of me and then also just hitting my head and not being able to continue. But I can’t change all that now. I just need to focus and have a good training block, knuckle down into that, and then [move] on to the Tour.

What did you get up to in that hour today?
[It was] just to turn the legs and loosen up a bit, because you get pretty stiff after crashing – it’s good just to try to move a bit. I had a massage and physio as well, doing some work on my shoulder. Three, four days and I should be back into it, not really feeling much of it.

And then back to standard training?
Next week, I’ll definitely have some big days on the bike with some quite hard efforts and put in a decent volume of hours. Then probably from a week on Monday, in the five days in the lead-up, you put your feet up and just do a few activation efforts. But nothing much else, really.

Did you speak to Sir Dave Brailsford [GM of Team Ineos] after you came off?
He was just asking how I was and if I needed anything. Everyone was supportive, really, and they know that there was nothing too serious in the end. It was more just the precaution of hitting my head. All that seems to be fine, so they’re all behind me and making sure I’ve got everything I need, ready for this next week, to be in the best shape I can for July.

And Sir Dave had been talking about “low-risk” riding, after Chris Froome’s crash? It’s such bad luck to come straight after that.
Yeah. Dave was on about risk. He was just telling us, you know, this is a build-up race, not to be too keen and take unnecessary risks, because the team had had quite a lot of bad luck: Swifty [Ben Swift] in Tenerife, earlier this year when I was with him, was in hospital for over a week [after a crash]. And then this with Froomey. Narváez, one of the Ecuadorian guys, recently crashed and broke something in training. Egan [Bernal] broke his collarbone before the Giro d’Italia. I think that’s all playing on Dave’s mind, so he’s making sure we’re not too crazy in these races.

But the thing is, you think about it too much and you end up riding at the back… It’s better to just race as you normally do. And that’s what we were doing. It was just unfortunate that out of 170 guys, the one guy that crashed was right in front of me!


Via British GQ