Geraint Thomas is always ready to provide entertaining quotes in any interview, and that light-hearted style carries over into his first two books; the formula continues with Mountains According To G, which focuses on a key aspect of so many race results – including his own.
Back in 2015, Geraint Thomas put his name to The World Of Cycling According To G, and seeing a current professional cyclist give his thoughts on a wide range of cycling matters, along with some biographical information – albeit without much depth in either – was unusual. That undemanding and easy-to-read style set the tone for his future books.
This was followed in 2018 by The Tour According To G, which capitalised on his unexpected but well-deserved win in that year's Tour de France: it was primarily a 'day in the life' account of his experience, so the biographical aspect was necessarily limited to that race.
Just seven pages of the first book are given to a chapter called 'Climbing,' which ends with a variation on Greg Lemond's famous comment: 'We all hurt, we just do so at different speeds.' Not surprisingly this new book is an extension of that chapter, rejoicing in the old cliché, in cycling, you can ride the same venue as the best in the world – unlike most other sports.
Ghost writer Graham Fordyce once again does a good job of writing in a style that can pass as G's own words. But while the book claims to discuss 'cycling's greatest climbs,' it's actually only 25 of them – and then only climbs Thomas has ridden in training or racing.
From a UK perspective, you can only share his experiences on two climbs in Wales, one in England, and none in Scotland or Ireland. This is certainly not a comprehensive catalogue of significant mountains, and don't expect inspiring landscape photos; there are no photos at all. Nor are there any maps or profiles, just a few statistics from race performances (though they include some from that 2018 victory).
Mountains According To G is more about the personal challenge of racing up these climbs, and tips for how to do it successfully. Of course, most people will never be in that position, but if you have ridden any of these, it can be interesting to read about the pro experience.
It seems Thomas once viewed the Mortirolo Pass as 'the hardest climb we race up,' but with a few more years of racing at the sharp end, he's expanded that to 'a trio of brutes ... Solden, the big Swiss, sorry Austrian bastard. The Portet, two horrible climbs in one. And the Mortirolo, a road that makes no sense.'
In a typically G comment, when discussing the Sa Calobra climb in Majorca he pokes fun at Chris Hoy, 'who named one of his range of road bikes after the climb, despite going up it as often as I've had caviar for tea.' We know he over-did the celebrations a bit after his Tour de France win, but even then I doubt that sturgeon roe was in his diet.
There's a bonus chapter at the end called 'G's top ten climbers' – all riders who reached their peak during the time G has been in the pro peloton. With that proviso, Chris Froome narrowly beats Alberto Contador; Thomas is always the team player!
At one stage the publisher must have thought 2020 had played in their favour, as Thomas entered the Giro as favourite with the delayed race's new finish only four days before publication. As we now know, that particular marketing plan didn't work out...
I doubt many people expected mountains to be Thomas' next topic, but perhaps he'll hold forth on anything to do with cycling if he can link his name to it. Maybe we should expect one about Zwift next year?
Fans of G (and his engaging style) will welcome this latest book from a much-loved rider, and Mountains According to G still leaves plenty of room for the inevitable biography. Others might struggle to justify the purchase, though, thanks to the perhaps predictable lack of depth, rather limited approach to the world's greatest climbs, and less forgivable lack of pictures.
An easy and engaging read, if a bit lacking in breadth and depth – and pictures
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Mountains According to G by Geraint Thomas
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Publisher Quercus says it's: "Geraint Thomas's inside guide to twenty-five of the greatest cycling climbs in the world."
"There have been fine books about the big climbs before but never from the voice of an elite GC winner, taking you inside what these climbs really feel like, where the attacks come, where the pain kicks in.
"From best-known big-hitters, via pro-peloton favourites, to the secret climbs Geraint has come to love, and featuring Australia, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Mallorca and Wales, this is the cyclist's secret manual."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Title: Mountains according to G
Author: Geraint Thomas
Although a hardback, there are no photos.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes – in paperback
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's everything we would expect from a book by Thomas, even if the topic is not something you might expect from him. It makes few demands of the reader, and mirrors G's interview style. With pictures to complement it, this could score higher.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,