Geraint Thomas celebrates Giro d'Italia consistency on 37th birthday
'I'm 37, I should be on the beach, but I'm really enjoying it all' race leader says before decisive Dolomite stage
Geraint Thomas was given a pink cake at the start of stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia and his much-loved Welshcakes by Welsh television at the finish, yet his biggest birthday present was another consistent day of riding in the high mountains that allowed him to stay with a resurgent Primož Roglič and gain 21 seconds on João Almeida.
Thomas wore the maglia rosa for his 37th birthday, enjoying the support and affection of the Giro d’Italia tifosi, while staying focussed on the job of controlling his two close and dangerous rivals.
On Tuesday, Thomas gained 25 seconds on Roglič, on the steep climbs on the road to Val di Zoldo, he gained 21 seconds on Almeida while staying with Roglič. The top three overall remain very close, but Thomas now leads Roglič by a cushion of 29 seconds, with Almeida at 39 seconds.
With a final mountain stage in the Dolomites on Friday and then the decisive mountain time trial to Monte Lussari on Saturday, Thomas is not taking anything for granted.
“I'm not thinking about the end result,” he said, keeping his race plan and mentality simple.
“I think we're all similar. Primož had not such a good day, and then today João suffered. But it could be me another day, so I’m not getting carried away. I just need to do the basics every day. For sure, it’s going to go down to the last day and the time trial.”
Thomas could become the oldest-ever winner of the Giro d’Italia, bettering Fiorenzo Magni, who won the 1955 Giro d’Italia aged 34.
Cycling is traditionally not a sport for veterans over 35, especially in the ever-young modern era. Yet Thomas finds strength in his age and experience.
“I’m 37, I should be on the beach, but I'm really enjoying it all,” he explained.
“I'm really making the most of it because when you get towards the end of your career, you know it's not going to last forever. It's good to enjoy the best moments because there have also been plenty of downs. I’m really enjoying being in the pink, and I’m going to give everything I've got to try and keep it without putting any huge amount of pressure on myself.”
Thomas has found a rich vein of consistency and is managing it all with experience.
“Consistency has been my best strength, I try not to have too many downs or ups. I think that's the key for Grand Tour racing,” he claimed.
“I've done 12 Tours, this is the fifth Giro, and I've done a Vuelta, so I think all that experience does come into play. It takes a bit of the pressure off. I don't feel I really need to do this race to make my career.”
Thomas will celebrate his birthday with a race meal as he tries to recover and carbo-load for Friday’s big mountain stage to Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
“It’ll be the same as always: rice, maybe a bit of cake, an early night and do it all again,” he said.
“It’s about not getting carried away and taking it all climb by climb.
"We’ll keep doing the basics and then go all in tomorrow. Stage 19 is the Queen stage, it’s a long hard day, with 500 metres of climbing and the longest part at the end. I just hope to be there at the finish.”
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.