In memoriam: Geraint Thomas’s iconic sunglasses
An Ineos Grenadier sponsor shuffle has tragic consequences.
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Geraint Thomas’s season this year was one of third places: on the Tour de France podium, on a big wooden throne at the Commonwealth Games, and at the hotly contested Saitama Criterium. That’s a solid season, no matter which way you look at it – but amongst all those near-wins, the 2022 season ended with a colossal loss for Thomas.
After 12 illustrious years, his team – Ineos Grenadiers – has just parted ways with eyewear titan Oakley.
Now, teams change equipment suppliers all the time, and quite often that is neither newsworthy nor particularly interesting. This is not one of those times. Geraint Thomas has been a loyal wearer of the long-discontinued Oakley Racing Jacket model for 12 years, wore its bulbous form to a yellow jersey, begrudgingly accepted sponsor orders to wear something else at the Tour de France this year for one day and one day only, and has publicly mourned every time he lost a pair over the years.
Like 2015, when he crashed on stage 16 of the Tour, and bemoaned afterwards how he’d lost his glasses and “they don’t even make them any more.” Or 2019, when another pair bit the dust at the Tour de Suisse (and I quote: “#hardtimes #sendsupplies”). Or that time at the 2021 Tour. Crash by crash, the global stockpile of Racing Jackets dwindled, but Geraint Thomas loyally stuck by them – a priceless branding #synergy of pragmatic Welshman, and bug-eyed goggles from the Armstrong era.
In an arid press release, deputy team principal Rod Ellingworth announced the end of an era: “we pride ourselves on working with the most forward-thinking, agile and performance-driven partners – that’s why we’ve chosen SunGod as our new, long-term eyewear partner.”
Reporting from freshly independent bicycle cycling journalist Caley Fretz has since confirmed that there is, tragically, no Geraint Thomas clause to this deal:
End of an era and the untimely demise of an icon: Geraint Thomas has to wear SunGod glasses next year. No more Oakley Racing Jackets. “All riders will be contractually required to wear SunGod,” a team rep told me.— Caley Fretz (@CaleyFretz) December 12, 2022
I have photoshoppped our future. pic.twitter.com/mokc6ZKozC
We do not know how Geraint Thomas took the news that his Racing Jackets would have to be permanently retired, but that doesn’t mean we can’t let our minds wander. We could speculate about him building a doomsday bunker to house the remaining global supply of a decade-old sunglass model. We could speculate about Thomas descending into a foaming fury, snapping his sunglasses across the bridge then hurling the pieces at a wall. We could even speculate that – grasping fruitlessly for the perfect words for an impossible situation – he typed mournful commands into ChatGPT.ai, and wept over the AI’s emotive stanzas:
In the bright sunshine of a summer’s day,
Or the gray mist of a winter’s ride,
You were always there,
Protecting my eyes from the elements.
Your sleek design,
A perfect blend of form and function,
Gave me the confidence to push harder,
To strive for victory.
But now, alas,
Our time together has come to an end.
I must bid thee farewell,
My trusty Oakley Racing Jacket sunglasses.
Farewell, my dear friends,
May your lenses always be clear,
And your frames always straight and true.
You will be missed.
We could make all of those things up, but that would be gravely irresponsible.
Instead, Ineos Grenadiers would probably like you to know that they are happy about SunGod’s “product quality and commitment to continuously raising the industry bar”, the “pipeline [why is there always a pipeline?] of innovative products”, and the opportunity this partnership gives both parties to showcase SunGod products “at the highest level of competitive cycling.”
CyclingTips sends its deepest condolences to Geraint Thomas and his remaining, forbidden supply of an ugly but iconic pair of sunglasses.