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It’s so far to Australia from the UK that it’s just as easy to keep going one way rather than turn-around and do the U-turn.
That’s what 2018 Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas was thinking when he was plotting his approach to the upcoming season.
Committed to starting his campaign in the sun and fun at Adelaide for the Santos Tour Down Under, the Ineos Grenadiers star was checking out flights and his early season training needs.
A light went off in his head: Rather than take the long, 22-hour return flight back to cold and gloomy Europe, why not keep following the sun?
And that’s just what he’s doing.
The Welshman and his family landed this week in New Zealand, and then they’ll will fly to California for more warm-weather training, before landing back on the continent just in time to start the Volta ao Algarve in mid-February.
Call it the Geraint Thomas Round-the-World training camp.
“Last year, I did a different program racing wise, and it just keeps it a bit fresh,” Thomas said in Australia. “I know I’ve been downplaying my age, but after 17 years, it’s good to keep it a bit different.
“If you keep doing the same things over and over again things get old. It’s nice to freshen things up a bit That’s part of the reason I am going to New Zealand and getting in some good base miles.”
The long road to the Giro d’Italia
Thomas landed in New Zealand this week after debuting at the Santos Tour Down Under, where he helped teammate Magnus Sheffield ride to fourth overall and win the young rider’s jersey.
Rather than race this weekend’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, however, Thomas B-lined to New Zealand. With his family in tow, Thomas is making the most of the trip.
Through his contacts with team sponsor Ineos, Thomas connected with rugby player Richie McCaw and Olympic rower Nathan Cohen for a ride in Wanaka.
Thomas is a big rugby fan, and he posted photos on his Instagram feed with McCaw, who won two World Cups as captain of the New Zealand team.
“He’s a legendary rugby player for Kiwis, and I will meet up for him for a ride. He’s a bit heavier, but he loves a good ride,” Thomas said. “[Alex] Dowsett’s sent me a few routes, he’s spent some time there.”
From there it’s off to California, where he’s often trained and spent down time during the off-season to take in U.S. sports as well as ride with Ineos triathlete and racer Cameron Wurf.
With the Giro d’Italia as the first major goal in 2023, Thomas said he’s using these warm-weather training camps to build out his base.
“The last time I really prepared for the Giro was in 2017. It was a bit random in 2020, and it’s very different preparation for the Giro compared to the Tour,” Thomas said. “So right now on my training rides I am pushing on a bit more normally in this time of year.”
Thomas told VeloNews and other reporters last week in Australia that he remains undecided if 2023 will be his final season in the pros.
He gave himself until March to make a final decision, but he said he’s committed to enjoying the year no matter what he decides.
And part of that is not taking things so seriously, at least when the chips are not on the table.
“I still have that drive and intensity, but when you have a kid, it’s not the be all and end all, you can still be focused and committed,” Thomas said. “For me it’s maybe having a few beers and maybe chilling out, but some of the young guys are not into that. I know what I need to do to be ready to race.”
Third last year in the 2022 Tour de France, Thomas reminded everyone he is still at the top of his game.
Some unfinished business at the Giro is giving him a fresh carrot to chase this season.
And the road to the Giro loops around the world this winter.
“I will do my round the world holiday, then Algarve, Tirreno, and after that it’s undecided,” Thomas said. “Maybe Coppi e Bartali, Catalunya or a training block, then altitude camps, Tour of the Alps and then the Giro.”
For Thomas right now, the journey is just as important as the finish line.