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Geraint Thomas: 'My wife approves all my clothes, she buys them for me'

The Conversation

By Adam Jacques

The 29-year-old Olympic gold winning cyclist on doping, learning Welsh, and a craving for curries.

Q: What impact had the revelations about Lance Armstrong cheating have on you and your sport? 

A: It was such a big lie, and he made all this money from cheating everyone. So people are still interested in the controversy, and it's why we still get doping questions directed at 'Froomey' (this year's Tour de France winner, Chris Froome) and Team Sky all the time. It's a shame because if I do a good ride now, people wonder if I'm doping. You don't get that in any other sport. History will prove that I was doing it the right way.

Q: Is this a golden era for British cycling?

A: There's been a massive rise in British cycling since I joined the junior programme when I was 17. It all started in 2004 when Chris Hoy won gold for the 1km time trial in Athens; when one person starts doing well, they take everyone with them. The masses didn't take British cycling success on board until Beijing, with Chris's three golds, Thomas also won gold, in the British team pursuit. And returning home to Cardiff it was a massive surprise to see random people I didn't know being as happy as my family and I were.

Q: Cycling is a dangerous sport. How do you cut down the risks?

A: I've had some spectacular accidents, including one in the Tirreno-Adriatico race in Italy, in 2009, when I was young and still learning. It was a time-trial stage and I went down a descent and into a corner way too fast. I overshot, hit the barrier and went straight off: the bike hit a tree and dropped 20ft down a ravine. There was blood everywhere. Thomas also fractured his nose and broke his pelvis. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't worth risking the crash I had for just a top-10 placing that day, as I was nowhere in the race overall.

Q: Obviously you have a very healthy diet, but do you ever just crave a burger?

A: In the cycling season, when I'm doing 30-odd hours of exercise a week, I'm dreaming of burgers and curries that I'll have at the end of the season. Then, when I finally get home, at the end of September, after a few days of eating everything bad and drinking pints, it's like, bleurgh, I'm looking forward to getting fit again and feeling good in myself.

Q: Can you enjoy a drink given your intensive training regime?

A: A night out goes downhill fast when I've not been drinking for a while. My drinking form at the start of the off-season is never good. It's probably what my wife Sarah hates most about me: after not drinking for so long, I start off lively, then I'm sick, and by the end of the night I'll fall asleep.

Q: You're a proud Welshman, so can you speak Welsh?

A: I regret not paying a bit more attention to Welsh lessons at school. My Welsh is pretty ropey, as back at my school people didn't take Welsh lessons seriously. My dad can speak it, so I wish he'd taught me some growing up. Since meeting my wife, I have picked up bits, as she is fluent. But when I'm abroad training and tired, the last thing I want to do is pick up yet another language, so it's been about a word a month.

Q: What do you miss most when away at races?

A: I'm away so much that it's a pleasure just walking back through the door and sitting on the sofa to watch some rubbish TV. This year I've been watching The Big Painting Challenge on BBC1. I never normally watch that sort of thing, but I got into it, as I found it relaxing.

Q: Do you regard yourself as a fashionable dresser?

A: My wife has to approve it now - she buys all my clothes for me these days. The last thing I want to do, even in the off-season, is traipse around shops looking for clothes: it's not my thing.

The plug

Born in Cardiff, Geraint is a double Olympic gold-winning Welsh track and road cyclist. His book, The World of Cycling According to G is out now, Quercus, £20

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