Tour de France: Thomas hits back at social media haters and abusive roadside fans
'If you've got nothing nice to say, then don't say nothing' says Welshman
Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) has hit back at social media haters and abuse from roadside fans at the Tour de France, using his personal podcast to highlight some of the strongest abuse.
Thomas revealed that his Team Ineos teammate Wout Poels had received a series of offensive messages via Instagram after his strong riding on stage 19 to set up Egan Bernal for the attack that would crack Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and allow him to take the race leader's yellow jersey.
"I think people should hear the type of abuse that Wout gets purely for doing his job and helping out his teammates," Thomas said before reading out several messages, repeating the swearing and aggressive tone of the hateful messages, with a hint of sarcasm, before adding: "If you've got nothing nice to say, then don't say nothing."
Poels joined Thomas on the podcast, replacing Luke Rowe, who was expelled from the Tour de France after stage 17 for after an altercation with Tony Martin. The Dutchman laughed off the abusive messages but was also keen to highlight the amount of hate messages he had received.
"It's not cool that people nowadays send you things that you don't ask for," Poels said. "Just support the people who you want to support and put your tone down but don't boo."
Thomas and Poels also discussed the abusive behaviour they received from roadside spectators when stage 19 to Tignes was cancelled due to the extreme weather and they were forced to climb into team cars to reach the finish.
"Did you get all that abuse?" Thomas asked Poels, who responded: "There was one guy with a baby on his back, who was doing the middle finger. That's not cool."
"It's crazy really," Thomas said. "When I'm in a race, it doesn't bother me one bit, I'm in the zone. But when you're not in a race, you take it in a bit more, you're like: 'Serious. Mate, it's just a bike race.'"
In recent years, Team Sky have been the target for abuse during the Tour de France, often from partisan French spectators, with the team claiming urine had been thrown at them during one stage. Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome often suffered abuse and booing from the French crowd, with the worst coming in 2018, just after he was cleared of any wrongdoing in the drawn-out Salbutamol case.
Team manager Dave Brailsford poured fuel on the situation by suggesting it was 'a French cultural thing'
"It's interesting. We raced in Italy and Chris' case was open when we were at the Tour of Italy and the Italians were fantastic, to be fair to them. The Spanish, fantastic. It just seems to be a French thing," Brailsford said during the second rest day of the 2018 Tour de France.
Thomas called Rowe during the latest episode of his podcast to discuss how they would celebrate the end of the Tour de France in Paris.
Rowe picked up on Thomas' desire to hit back at the haters.
"I'm on it, I'm getting so much abuse, I'm fighting it left, right and centre," Thomas said to Rowe, joking that nobody but their families would be listening the podcast.
Thomas reiterated his belief that the decision to expel Rowe from the Tour de France had been harsh.
"I think it's a load of bollocks he, and Tony Martin, were sent home," Thomas said.
"That stuff happens virtually every day, with people trying to squeeze past and closing the road. I guess because it was on TV and in the finale of race. OK after Tony did that, Luke kind of grabbed his shoulder and said: 'Please don't do that again''. I guess for image (of the race) of all that stuff. It's a shame we lost him."
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