Geraint Thomas is the youngest rider in the Tour De France this year, but the 21-year-old Barloworld rider already has a palmarès that many would be proud of. There's no doubting the talent and ability of the current World Team Pursuit Champion, so Gerry McManus caught up with the youngster ahead of his Tour de France debut.
Geraint Thomas is one of the first crop of British Cycling Academy riders who had moved onto the professional scene having served his time in the GB squad on the road and track. The medal cabinet at home in Wales is well decorated with National, Commonwealth Games and World Championship medals.
"I started cycling with the Maindy Flyers when I was ten and then moved on to Cardiff JIF back in my home town of Cardiff," said Thomas. "Jan Ullrich was a big hero of mine when won the first Tour de France I watched on TV. I have always looked up to him.
"I like the track and the road," added Thomas. "They're both just as good when you are winning! Obviously the road is just a little bit more prestigious. But when you get to the end of one season you start to look forward to the other."
In 2004 he won his first World Championship gold medal in the scratch race in the junior track worlds in Los Angeles. "I guess I started to really believe in myself after Los Angeles and that helped me win the junior Paris-Roubaix later that year," he explained. "I started to see cycling as a career rather than a hobby. Up to then we just had fun riding bikes and we all went down to the Maindy track and it was just like a youth club really. From there I chose to go into the academy rather than go to college. I owe a lot to coaches like Darren Tudor and Rod Ellingworth and the British programme."
"I finished my 'A' levels and moved up to Manchester where I was living with Ed [Clancy] and Mark [Cavendish]," continued Thomas. "It was different moving out of home and into a house with those two. It was a bit of a laugh and we are good mates now. It's good to have someone to help you through the bad times."
To read the full feature on Geraint Thomas, click here.