After all the kerfuffle about aero helmets and snoods, Geraint Thomas sat down to explain how he managed to ride the opening time trial of the 2022 Tour de France wearing a most unaero garment — the humble gilet.
Speaking to Ineos Grenadiers teammate Luke Rowe on their Watts Occurring podcast yesterday evening, road captain Rowe set the scene.
🎙 Episode 71 — The Gilet Pod
You don’t want to miss this one. First #TDF2022 pod is up 👇
— Watts Occurring (@Watts_Occurring) July 2, 2022
"We're in a team that spends hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, on aerodynamics?" he explained. "And on the biggest stage, biggest race, Geraint goes to the startline a bit chilly, so he sticks his nice warm gilet on. Not the most aerodynamic bit of kit, but you were nice and warm, weren't you?"
The gilet, an extra small at least, was not noticed by the 2018 yellow jersey winner, a soigneur looking after the rider, nor the mechanic tasked with aiding Thomas up the slippery ramp to the start house.
"Neither of them notice either. It's not their fault I should have known I had a...fucking gilet on," a frustrated G told his amused teammate.
"After a while I was like 'ah shit I've still got this thermal gilet on'. I was half tempted to take it off."
Thomas opted against removing the clothing on the fly, fearing the thought of crashing during the biggest TT of the year (so far) because he'd forgot to take a body warmer off. But it wasn't just the excess clothing slowing him down.
"Everyone was saying take it easy, don't lose it all today, but to be honest I wasn't even bothered about GC today I just wanted to do a good ride. It just got in my head and I rode so slow around these corners. It was so bad," he continued.
"I was cornering like my wife — she hasn't ridden a bike in 12 years. That was the worst first half of a time trial I've ever done.
"I was 18 seconds down at the first time check and I was like 'fuck this' and just took the pin out and raced it as I normally would. I was still cautious but just flowed a bit better and put the power down on the straights. The legs were really good which makes it worse because I could have been right up there.
"It's a bit raw at the minute, I'm still a bit angry."
An improved second half of the TT saw Thomas finish 18th, 25 seconds behind stage winner Yves Lampaert and 18 seconds behind Tadej Pogačar.
Rowe, who sailed through the Copenhagen puddles to 169th out of 176 recalled the moment everyone on the Ineos team bus realised the clothing blunder: "We were on the bus watching and it didn't show you coming off the ramp and Brad [Wiggins] on the bike said 'here with Geraint Thomas, he's actually wearing a body warmer which must be a sign he's not going full gas today' and we were like 'hang on, what?!'
— Nairo en maillot vert (@NairoInGreen) July 1, 2022
But could the aero gilet be the next marginal gain? (Spoiler alert: probably not)...
"I'm making out like it was a mistake but I'm also a lot faster when I'm wearing that," Thomas joked. "Stage 20 everyone's going to have gilets on."
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.