Non-public jets & calls from Arsene Wenger – how life modified for Thomas with Tour triumph
Geraint Thomas isn’t used to the lavish splendour of the Dorchester lodge.
However sat again comfortably in his armchair in a regal suite overlooking Hyde Park, you would not know this can be a complete new world for the 32-year-old from Cardiff.
At the same time as a bicycle owner of worldwide renown with two Olympic gold medals to his identify, successful the Tour de France has been life-changing.
“It is like using the crest of a wave as a result of all this isn’t regular, all of the interviews and staying in good lodges,” he tells BBC Sport.
“We received a non-public jet from Paris to London yesterday with Sky so it is loopy in the mean time.
“It has been insane. I am an enormous Arsenal fan and I spoke to Arsene Wenger once I was on the telephone on the airport. I received video messages off Dan Carter, Thierry Henry and Rob Brydon.
“All these individuals like Ryan Jones, Shane Williams, guys like that who I grew up as a child simply watching and they’re messaging me saying they’ve been impressed and actually loved watching me.
“It is like ‘wow’. I am nonetheless a fan of them so to obtain these texts is good.”
‘Brits love an underdog do not they?’
Thomas wears a barely glazed expression at occasions, as if nonetheless struggling to understand the size of his achievement a number of days after the occasion.
He’s exhausted, not solely by the gargantuan bodily effort of the Tour, however by the emotional toll of the aftermath: tears, elation, disbelief.
Regardless of a glittering CV which additionally consists of World Championships and Commonwealth Video games titles, there was a component of shock to his victory in France as a result of his profession on the highway has largely been spent enjoying a supporting function for his team-mates.
So does successful the Tour de France – the primary Welshman and solely the third Briton to take action – remodel the lifetime of a rider of even Thomas’ standing?
“Yeah, it does, most positively,” he says, his eyes widening slightly.
“On the monitor the expectations have been larger and all people anticipated us to win gold in London [at the 2012 Olympics] it was a very totally different type of stress.
“With the tour all of them thought it was about Froomey [Chris Froome]. I believed in myself and the group did and the shut individuals round me however to the surface world it was a large shock.
“That’s most likely why I’ve had a pleasant reception as properly, it’s simply that underdog factor. Brits love an underdog do not they?”
‘Good to speak about one thing good for a change’
Thomas is usually understated concerning the recognition of his win, which was a well timed elevate for the picture of Workforce Sky.
From the damning report which alleged that their use of therapeutic use exemptions for Sir Bradley Wiggins “crossed an moral line”, to Chris Froome’s anti-doping case which was finally dropped by the UCI, biking’s governing physique, Sky have been below intense scrutiny of late.
Their riders have been recurrently booed throughout this yr’s Tour, although there was a marked change in temper when Thomas stepped on to the rostrum to applause in Paris.
“It is good to speak about one thing good for a change and have a little bit of a celebration somewhat than negativity which appears to comply with biking spherical rather a lot today,” he says.
Thomas’ win was additionally a preferred one along with his fellow riders
“That’s the most pleasing factor to listen to when fellow rivals are congratulating you,” he provides.
“One of many guys from Movistar, [Daniele] Bennati, has gained Tour phases and I’ve all the time appeared as much as him, and he congratulated me and he had precise goosebumps down his arm and mentioned that was for me.
“I communicate to him within the peloton, he’s Italian and you do not have that actual connection. To get that response from somebody like that’s loopy.”
‘I am open to presents’
What Thomas is but to resolve, nevertheless, is his future with Sky.
His contract expires on the finish of this yr and, though he has spoken to different groups, the Welshman seems like he is likely to be able to renew his deal.
“Yeah I feel it is fairly lucky I did not signal it earlier than the Tour trying again at it,” he jokes.
“I feel the best way the group is run works very well for me however I am open to listening to different presents. However we’ll see what occurs within the coming weeks.”
Whereas Thomas weighs up his choices, Sky will all the time have a particular pull.
Together with Froome and Ian Stannard, Thomas is considered one of solely three survivors from the unique squad from Sky’s debut season in 2010.
And having additionally labored with group principal Sir Dave Brailsford throughout his days as a monitor racer, the prospect of life with out his fellow Welshman is an odd one.
“I feel so as a result of I’ve recognized Dave since I used to be 17. I’ve grown up with him and I’ve seen him greater than my very own dad since I used to be 17,” Thomas says.
“He has been a second father determine virtually and a boss. We have now been by quite a bit. He’s north Walian and we’ve got that reference to Wales as properly.
“It is onerous to place into phrases actually, how proud I’m and nice it’s to characterize Wales as a result of in biking it is slightly recognized nation, so it is good to place it on the map.”