Geraint Thomas has hit back at Bradley Wiggins’ recent comments and emotively-driven support for Lance Armstrong, suggesting that his former Team Sky teammate is simply seeking publicity to help sell his latest book.
Wiggins described Armstrong as the ‘perfect’ Tour de France winner in his book called Icons, explaining that the Texan was perhaps the sort of winner that Tour de France founder Henri Desgrange had in mind 120 years ago when he created the race. Wiggins suggested that a Tour de France winner is “on occasion, borderline sociopathic” and “always a very special, very driven human being.”
"I'm not saying he's an icon. He's iconic, for good and bad reasons now. I can't change the way it made me feel when I was 13. It changed my life," Wiggins explained in subsequent interviews revealing there was a "mutual respect in terms of what we've been through, racing against each other.”
Thomas, who speaking in China while riding the Shanghai Tour de France criterium, made it clear to the AFP news agency that he did not agree with Wiggins.
"Brad's got a book to sell," AFP reported Thomas as saying. "He does not have to worry about anything, either. He does not have to race his bike and deal with journalists.
"He can just say what he wants and do any interview he wants so he can say something like that and get a load of publicity."
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Getting back into training camp
Thomas finished second in the Shanghai exhibition criterium, beaten by Sagan after bring part of a late attack. After riding the Saitama criterium in Japan two weeks ago and then doing a publicity tour around Britain to promote his own book, Thomas is now looking forward to heading to his home in Monaco to finally begin serious training for the 2019 season.
"I'm really looking forward to it, too. I've had enough of everything else," Thomas said in Saitama, after 10 weeks without any form of serious racing and training, and adding several kilograms due to his lengthy Tour de France celebrations. "For sure, it's the most time I've had off the bike, so I won't start next year with all guns blazing. I just wanted to enjoy it because it doesn't happen every day. I've certainly enjoyed it.
"Dave Brailsford has been on to me, saying: 'Don't get too big, try to keep ticking over.' I can feel myself growing – sideways. Just maintaining any fitness is certainly the hardest thing but once you get back into it, I'm sure it will come back."
Going for a second consecutive Tour de France victory
Thomas will head to a Team Sky training camp in December when the team will decide who will take the lead in the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. Thomas is hoping to defend his Tour de France win, while Chris Froome is targeting a record-equalling fifth victory. Thomas has hinted he could ride the Giro d’Italia but is not satisfied with just one Tour de France victory.
Thomas is convinced he and Froome will never become the next Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault, fighting over the chance for victory, or be like Wiggins and Froome in 2012, when the younger upstart appeared to be stronger than his team leader in the final mountain stages but was held back under team orders.
"Maybe we're just both really nice people," Thomas said, adding: "Of course, I'm not saying anything about anyone else," jokingly avoiding any comparisons with the other former Tour stars.
"If I was to go to the Tour 100 per cent to try to win, and Froome was the same, I think if we'd just ride like we did this year,” Thomas suggested. “As we all know, anything can happen, but if we're open and honest, and as long as we don't race against each other, mess it up and allow someone else to win, I can't see why it can't work out the same."
Thomas suggested that a second Tour de France victory would be an even greater achievement than his maiden victory. "If you look in the history books, the last man to retain it after winning it for the first time was (Miguel) Indurain, back in 1991-92. So it kind of shows how rare that is," Thomas said.