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Geraint Thomas stops short of calling the particular brand of pain and suffering brought on by long, hard days in the saddle, ‘exciting’. It’s a human emotion. That’s good. Because the alternative would mean I was talking with a machine.

“Grand Tours and long, hard stages suit me. I just want to push the limit all the time. Even when we’re in training camp I’m trying to get a group of lads to do a lap of Majorca and only a few people actually do it. Stuff like that I find…” Thomas takes check, pausing to choose the right words. “Excites me sounds … yeah, I’m not that crazy … it’s the challenge of it all really, and that’s what’s enjoyable.”

A lap of Majorca is over 300km. For a voluntary training run. So, it’s perhaps Thomas’s willingness to go the extra kilometre that explains how, at 36, he’s still getting it done for one of the most successful teams in world cycling.


“To me, endurance means a long effort. It takes a lot of time and means long, hard days in the saddle. Grand Tours, racing day in, day out, always pushing yourself, always trying to go further, harder, for longer. I like the challenge of something that seems hard, the work ethic and enjoying pushing my body to the limit and seeing how far I can go.”

Next year marks 17 years that Thomas has been a professional cyclist. And in a sport that favours the young, it’s understandable that more recently he’s had to address inevitable media questions regarding retirement. For now, though, Thomas isn’t going anywhere.

After a successful career that includes a Tour de France title, Olympic Gold, and a peloton-sized amount of Grand Tour stage race victories, his experience to the INEOS Grenadiers is worth as much as his desire to compete. There’s very little that can prepare you for a Grand Tour. Ask Thomas and he’ll be quick to tell you that until you do it, you have no idea what it demands of you. It’s why he values his experience as much as the Grenadiers do.


“One of the hardest races was when I did the tour for the first time. I was 21 at the time, and every day I was finishing completely spent and thinking there was no way I could start tomorrow. But you have your massage, dinner, you get up in the morning and you go, ‘well I’m here, I may as well start’, and you kind of get going again. Mentally that was really hard, but since then I’ve never felt like I suffered as much as that, and if I do feel like I’m suffering I remember that time where it was just a massive fight just to finish the stages. That tour in 2007 was by far the most I’ve ever suffered and I had to really battle to get through.”

It was a pivotal learning opportunity that has served him well throughout his career. But, despite having the luxury of the Grenadiers’ world class support team at his disposal, Thomas had no choice but to play a more active role in what he does off the bike to ensure his success on it.


“Nutrition is one of the biggest factors when it comes to a GT. When you’ve done it properly and you fuel well, the difference is massive. Even now with my career, I’m still learning and realise back 10 years ago the difference – when you fuel, what type of fuel… And obviously the recovery as well, not just during the stage. The things you do around it, in the evening, in the morning, it all makes a massive difference and for sure, if you don’t nail that it’s the difference between winning or not.”

Like all sports, professional cycling has evolved over the last decade into one that’s faster, more aggressive and more intense. Science plays a more active role; technology produces data, which informs trainers and technicians who use it to generate optimum performance through training, nutrition, and recovery.

“Recovery is a massive part of it, and I’m still learning new things every year as the sport develops and more science comes into it. You understand more now, [such as] the best time to have your protein and carbohydrates and the amounts and when, so that all comes into play. The better you recover, the better you’ll feel the next day and the more you can do, so it’s a massive difference from even four to five years ago, let alone when I started my career. Psychologically, in the morning if you’re feeling a bit better, a bit fresher, you’re a lot more confident going into the day.”


The mental aspect of professional cycling is something that science is yet to affect. Everything has its limits, so for now it’s nice to imagine that it never will. For now, it remains the sole vestige of a sport that’s unaffected by technology, one that still largely relies on individual stoicism. For now, it’s still very much what separates the journeymen from the champions.

Geraint Thomas is one of those champions, but his approach to enduring tough stages of a race is not much different to the way most of us approach a difficult task.

“Getting through the hard days for me, I find breaking up the stage is a better way of dealing with it. Similarly with a GT, not looking at it like a big three-week block, but breaking it down in to four or five sections. And then when it comes to the days, breaking them up into the first part, and the climbs in the middle, and then the final climb. So, bitesize chunks rather than one big, hard slog and to tick off each section as it comes, and then you can see the finish line a lot easier.”

In the meantime, while the physical demands of the sport are only intensifying, the advantage gained for riders through the quality of scientific information and feedback using is often decisive. For Thomas, it goes some way toward explaining why his power output is greater now than four years ago.

“GT racing has changed a lot compared to when I won, which wasn’t even that long ago, but my power over 1-minute right the way through to 20-minutes has increased and I think a lot of factors come into it. Training and obviously nutrition is a big part of that as well as recovering better and fuelling better during training so you just perform better. But at the same time, in 2018 I wasn’t fully on the limit, I still had a bit left. But every race is different. In 2018 if you messed up a couple of days [of nutrition] you could probably get away with it, whereas now every day is intense so if you do under-fuel one day it’s going to have a massive knock-on effect, so it’s even more critical now.”


“The sooner you can start the recovery process, the better. We’ve only got a short window before the stage starts the next day, so [timeliness] is vital to recovery. REGO Rapid Recovery is the first drink we get given. Traditionally you think you just need protein, not carbs, but the whole replacing glycogen stores in your muscles and in your liver is vital. It’s got a good amount of protein and carbs in there and you get that down you straight away on the turbo.”

  1. Jump straight on turbo bike after race for warm down
  2. Drink SiS REGO Rapid Recovery drink while spinning legs
  3. Drink tart REGO Cherry Juice on the bus (anti-inflammatory properties to reduce pain and accelerate recovery)
  4. Eat carbs such as rice, pasta or potatoes with protein like tuna or chicken on the bus on way to hotel (amount depends on how hard the stage was)
  5. Get a massage at hotel before dinner
  6. Eat a full dinner with quality carbs and protein to continue fuelling
  7. Drink protein shake before going to bed

“It goes down easily to be fair. It’s not like you’re forcing it down because the racing we do now is so intense, so you know you need it. It’s pretty easy to do, but it is a lot of fuelling.”

Written By

The Performance Solutions Team