Geraint Thomas was ready to put a tough few weeks behind him after finishing outside the top 10 in the men’s Olympic time trial on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old had been hoping to pull something out of the bag after a brutal month of crashes at both the Tour de France and in Saturday’s road race at the Games, but was ultimately more than two and a half minutes off Primoz Roglic’s gold-medal winning pace.
Thomas was caught and passed by his Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Rohan Dennis, with the Australian on his way to a bronze medal, as he recorded the 12th fastest time – 57 minutes 46.61 seconds – on the 44km course centred on the Fuji Speedway.
“It was tough,” Thomas told the PA news agency. “I tried to start at a pace to be there or thereabouts for a medal but then I heard I was already 50 seconds down on Roglic and that wasn’t great for morale.
“I then just had a real bad patch on the second climb and really fell off the watts, I just lost momentum and lost concentration. Then Rohan caught me and that wasn’t good for the head either.
“I wouldn’t say I was happy with it but I’m content.”
Thomas came into the race battered and bruised, his crash in Saturday’s road race having impacted the same right shoulder he dislocated on stage three of the Tour.
“It’s been a super hard five weeks,” he said. “It just seems to be one thing after the next. You stay positive and keep putting your hat in the ring and try not to be scared of failing, but it’s been tough and I’m looking forward to getting away from the cycling world for a bit now.”
Thomas chose to finish the Tour despite his injuries, joking he was always all in whether “in a race or down the pub”, but as he watched the celebrations of Roglic – who withdrew on stage eight after a crash of his own – he could be forgiven for having second thoughts.
Roglic looked in supreme form as he went 61 seconds faster than Tom Dumoulin – who earned his second career Olympic silver, having taken a break from professional cycling earlier this year.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing,” Thomas said of his decision to ride to Paris. “It’s six and two threes. (By staying in the Tour) I had the team around me, physio, masseur, the chef.
“Maybe if I’d done what Roglic did and had a break, maybe it would have been better, but when I’m in that race I feel I have to stick with the guys. I did what I thought was right, so I can’t regret it.”
Thomas’ respite will not last long. He is due to race the Tour of Poland – which starts on August 9 – as he enters the final months of his contract with the Ineos Grenadiers, his future now the next question.
“There’s a few offers but I’m just waiting to speak to one other person,” Thomas said. “We will try to get it resolved quickly because it starts to play on your mind, but we’ll see.
“I’m open. I’ll listen to everyone and once we’ve got everything on the table we’ll go from there.”