Sport is really special. Like really special. Perhaps being an amateur athlete and cyclist myself makes me more attuned to appreciate professional’s efforts and achievements, but I will never ever forget what follows.
On the afternoon of the 28th of July, the day before the storms and my first Ironman of the season, I sat on the sofa sobbing quite badly. The very same sofa where I also sat almost exactly a year previously sobbing when JT played for Chelsea for the last time and was subbed after 26 minutes. I was naturally a little apprehensive about a full 140.6 miles the next morning in a storm but I really can’t blame that. And this was also considerably more sobbing than for my beloved Chelsea.
Geraint Thomas ‘G’ was stood on the podium in the yellow jersey having just won the Tour De France (2018) after 20 stages (no racing for general classification on the last day, stage 21). Some of you will know I’ve long been a ‘G’ fan. I posted on the morning of the defining Alpe du Huez stage ‘Your stage to take today G, ditch the lanky Froomy’. It was only 12 stages in but something told me to ready myself to dare to dream and it was also something for me to hold onto in otherwise difficult times. I don’t think many believed me. I heard cries ‘Team Sky will never let Geraint race Froome’.
If not now, when?
I then spent the next two weeks avoiding the internet until after 7pm until I’d watched the highlights of each stage.
Most of the time I had to sit behind a cushion. Not because of G’s riding but because I so desperately wanted such a deserving and talented candidate to win. He was quickly becoming the nation’s favorite but he’d been mine for years. The day the peloton was attacked by pepper spray? That. Was. Bad. In the end I had to look at the results with the overall times rather than watching the whole race or highlights. I was so excited, but I needed to put my anxiety to rest in the quickest way possible.
G is now 32 years old (the same age as me) and is thus one of the older pro cyclists. He’s been a huge talent, starting as a track rider, played a big part in London 2012 but always either having a mechanical or crash at the all-important moments. He’s also a very good domestique and has spent many years at Team Sky keeping Froomey safe and sound without being allowed to actually race him.
This year it was different. It was clear the team were letting them race after around stage 12. Green light, green light. They couldn’t not given G’s strength and when roles reversed and Froome took on the job of G’s domestique it really put him up in my estimations!
However, cycling needed a change from Froome’s domination and the many doping scandals previously but right until the last day G was clearly not believing it would be him delivering it. I see a lot of myself in that mindset including the bits where one doesn’t take oneself seriously enough as means of protecting themselves against defeat or deficient performances. Like most sports people he broke it down, steady Eddy, ‘one day at a time’ until the commentator pointed out to him ‘well, there are no more days after tomorrow!’. He did the simple things to perfection, kept himself out of trouble, pushed on when he needed to.
G has a good few more years in him but I doubt he will win many more, if any, grand Tours. I wouldn’t have thought that will matter. He’s waited years for this and one defining victory at the Tour de France is enough to put him up there as one of the best cyclists around. It’s everything he deserved after tirelessly working and serving others for over a decade.
And no, before you would like to suggest my new ink refers to the ‘G8’ summit, it doesn’t. G’s race number was 8 throughout this year’s Tour de France.
I don’t care if you think I am sad for having a second cycling related tattoo on my skin. Nor do I care that few will remember G in 30 year’s time when I am grey and old. I live for the now and all my tattoos come as part of my story, history and moments that were truly special to me and I definitely won’t forget this one.
Paint the town yellow please, give everyone free Welsh cakes and then hand out the Personality of the Year Award to G.