Gambling Geraint Is Only Thinking of No1

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Majendie

Evening Standard OLYMPICS COUNTDOWN 190 days to go GERAINT THOMAS recalls, as a six-year-old, being sprawled out on the carpet at home in Caerphilly tuned into the Barcelona Olympics with his dad on the sofa behind him.

Sitting in the foyer of a hotel room in Adelaide, Australia, two decades on, Thomas can picture the scene perfectly except for what exactly he was watching on the screen.

In fact, despite being one of Britain's leading cyclists he cannot recall Chris Boardman winning gold in the individual pursuit at those Games.

"I remember watching the athletes but I don't remember any of the details really, I was only six," he says looking very fresh despite having just ridden 90 miles in temperatures hitting the 40-degree mark, the hottest he has ever known.

While the details are far from vivid, the Games clearly planted a seed in the mind of a malleable kid already keen on riding his bike and, subconsciously perhaps, it has played a part in deciding his 2012.

He was the highest-ranked Briton at the 2011 Tour de France in 31st place but will miss this year's race to focus on his bid for glory at the Olympic velodrome in the team pursuit.

Thomas and his friend Ed Clancy are set to spearhead the team having been part of the quartet who blitzed the field to take gold in Beijing. Since then Australia, New Zealand and Russia have matched a changing British line-up and, in some cases, surpassed it.

After the opening road race of 2012, the Tour Down Under, in which he is competing until Sunday, Thomas will return to Manchester for three weeks of track training and start the proper push to the Games.

"At the end of the day," a phrase he dots throughout the conversation for emphasis, "I want to stand on the podium and win gold. I feel I'm doing it for the right reasons. It's my decision and I honestly think I'd kick myself if I didn't do it."

The dream is all well and good but surely there is a gamble with putting everything on hold for an event where the margin between first and even fourth is set to be exceptionally tight.

"If I don't win gold, it's not the end of the world," he says. "I'm alive, I'm not under fire fighting in Afghanistan for example. The reality is there's a lot more to life than racing around a wooden, banked oval. But, of course, winning the gold is the aim and I'd be massively disappointed if I didn't."

Despite not having the huge public profile of Mark Cavendish, the 25-yearold pipped his new Sky team-mate to the title of British Olympic Association's Olympic cyclist of 2011. …