For years, 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas toiled in the obscurity of being a domestique to Sky teammate Chris Froome. The Welsh rider spoke to DW about his development as a rider and his newfound fame.
DW: Geraint Thomas, has winning the Tour de France changed your life?
Geraint Thomas: Yes, I'm just really busy. There have been a lot of things to do, a lot of media events and other things. But fortunately, there are a lot of benefits, like attending an Arsenal vs. Manchester City game at the Emirates Stadium. I was invited out onto the pitch and was given an Arsenal jersey from them with Thomas on the back. Little things like that, you never think about. And a velodrome in Wales has been named after me. It's really strange, because you only think about winning the race, crossing the finish line with your arms in the air. You don't think about all the other things that happen afterwards.
Do people treat you any differently now?
Certainly, a lot more people recognize me now. But of course, my friends and family are just the same. I've just enjoyed celebrating with them.
How was the reaction of the fans when you returned home after the Tour?
It was amazing in Cardiff. I had a homecoming there and there over 10,000 people turned out, it was really good. I had some late nights and I wasn't on my bike very often.
What did it take for you to win the Tour de France?
I think it was the culmination of all of my years as a pro. You know, you train for different things, like obviously at the start I trained for four-minute races and then for day-long races and weekend races and now for the grand tours. So you can see that it was a gradual progression. It's really good to finally make it to the top.
Having finally won the world's most prestigious cycling event, how difficult is it to get motivated for the races that follow?
I think you'd better ask me that next year. But I've really enjoyed the last three weeks, I celebrated with everyone. I think I will be motivated for next year, but this year I just want to enjoy it.
The Deutschland Tour is your first race after the Tour, a race that is being run for the first time in 10 years. What do you think about the atmosphere here in Germany?
It's really nice. Hopefully the race can grow now and build upon this. I used to watch it on the TV back then. It's a shame it stopped, but it is great that it is back. I've raced in Germany a few times previously, in the Bayern Rundfahrt, which I have won twice. I have some nice memories here. But I don't have high expectations this time, I'm just riding with my team and enjoying being back.
Travel is a big part of the life of a professional cyclist. How does this affect you and your family?
Obviously, it is hard to be away from home a lot. But when you achieve a big goal, then it all becomes worthwhile. Because you can only do it for 10, maybe 15 years and then it is all over. So you have to enjoy it while you can.
What are your goals for the future?
I'd love to go back to the Tour, obviously. The Giro d'Italia is also another big goal. But I don't really know. First, I am going to look at the race calendar for next year and make a decision around November.
Will you stay with Team Sky?
I don't know yet. I'll only be able to say when a decision has been finalized.
And will you compete in the World Championships in in Innsbruck in September?
No, not this year. I can't see that happening.
Do you have any plans for when your cycling days are over?
I enjoy watching other sports and definitely want to compete in an Ironman event, once I stop cycling. I just want to do one really but I know that once I start training for it, I will pursue it for a certain period of time. I am looking forward to doing that one day.
Geraint Thomas, 32, is a cyclist who competes for Team Sky, Wales, and Great Britain. He began his career in track cycling, in which he was a specialist in the team pursuit. He later moved over to road racing, serving as a domestique to both Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins, helping both to victories in the Tour de France. In 2018 he emerged from Froome's shadow to become the first Welshman to win the Tour. This weekend he is competing in the four-stage Deutschland Tour, which is being held for the first time in a decade.
The interview was conducted by Joscha Weber.