For Geraint Thomas, the cycling off-season grind is no new thing. The Welshman is currently preparing for a new season in the pro peloton for the 18th time in his long career, perhaps for the penultimate time having recently signed a two-year contract extension with Ineos Grenadiers.
For Thomas, the brief time off the bike around this time of the year is a time to let go and indulge in the things he nor any other cyclist can partake in during the racing season – such as alcohol and off-diet food.
The 37-year-old told The Times that he needs that kind of “blowout” during the off-season, a period of regular life, before returning to the strict lifestyle of a professional athlete.
“The last two weeks, honestly, I think I’ve been drunk 12 out of the 14 nights. Since coming back to Cardiff, it’s been mad. That’s the way you meet your mates. Like, ‘Oh, do you want to catch up? Yeah, let’s go for dinner, or just go down the pub’,” he said.
“I don’t drink during the season, apart from the odd drink, but in the off-season you let yourself go. For sure, the tolerance is lower at the start, but I feel like I have a good drinking condition now. I don’t know if it’s a British, or an Aussie mentality, the culture of just going out and getting drunk when you’re young.”
“That sticks with you and that’s the way I socialise. That blowout – that real normality – is what I need, because now I’m like, ‘Mate, I really need to just get on my bike and get structured.'”
Thomas compared his mentality and his off-season ‘blowouts’ to what he sees from younger riders nowadays, saying that many newer pros are “on it” year-round rather than indulging as he does.
“I feel like I’ve been able to enjoy my time. It’s rare now that a young rider actually has a drink,” he said. “Not that you’ve got to have a drink to have a good time. It just shows the difference in the mentality – everything is measured, and they’re all on it 12 months of the year. Even in the off-season they still ride their bikes or they’re running marathons.”
Soon enough, though, attention will turn back to the bike, to getting back into shape and down to race weight, and to his future goals.
Thomas admitted that “the Giro is quite tempting” after his penultimate stage maglia rosa loss to Primož Roglič this past May. However, he also said “I missed it this year” of the Tour de France, the Grand Tour he won five years ago.
“On the top of [Monte Lussari], I wanted to be anywhere else in the world. It was pretty…