Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas is gearing up for what could be the second last season in his notable career. Thomas, 37, has been with the professional ranks for nearly two decades and has recently penned a new two-year deal with Ineos Grenadiers. The off-season represents a rare opportunity for him to break away from the strict regimen that comes with professional cycling, allowing him to indulge in alcohol and foods otherwise off-limits during the competitive months.
He confessed to The Times that the off-season is his time to unwind thoroughly before he recommences the disciplined life of an athlete. Thomas candidly shared that his return to Cardiff entailed a significant amount of socialising with friends, often involving alcohol. According to him, this period of letting loose is crucial for resetting mentally and sparks his drive to return to structured training.
Contrasting Attitudes Between Generations
Thomas observed a distinct difference in the approach to off-season between himself and the younger generation of riders. He noted that the younger pros tend to engage in a year-round regime, often avoiding alcohol and maintaining strict fitness schedules even out of season.
With the new season approaching, the Welshman’s attention will soon turn back to the sport, shedding off-season weight gain and focusing on future goals. He reminisced about the heartbreak of losing the Giro d’Italia’s maglia rosa in the penultimate stage to Primož Roglič last May, while also feeling the pull of the Tour de France, which he won five years previously.
Thomas discussed the difficulties of maintaining racing weight, a challenge that extends beyond mere training. Unlike boxers who bulk up for single bouts, cyclists must maintain a consistent weight throughout the gruelling duration of multi-week tours. He likened this to a form of mental fatigue that is present all day, every day, unlike the confined physical exertion of training.
Adapting to Nutritional Changes
Thomas also spoke about how nutrition within cycling has evolved, particularly with carbohydrate intake during races. In the past, he recalled, diets were more restrictive and mood-affecting. Nowadays, he embraces the shift towards fueling more during rides, a strategy that helps him manage hunger and maintain weight more effectively.
In light of cycling’s evolving landscape, Thomas attributes his ability to stay competitive to his capacity for adaptation. This includes embracing the increased carbohydrate consumption during races, a significant shift from the traditional philosophy that has dominated the sport for so long.
As Thomas prepares for the 2024 season, whether he chooses to race in Italy or France, the experienced rider’s journey underscores the evolving nature of professional cycling and the balance needed between discipline and downtime.