Tour de France: Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe's friendship forged at youth centre

BBC composite old and young shots of both cyclists

There are not many who are able to make a career out of the youthful pursuit of riding BMX bikes too fast.

Not only did childhood friends Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe manage exactly that, but from Saturday, 1 July, they will be teammates at the Tour de France, the world's most prestigious cycling race.

The pair met at the Maindy Flyers Youth Cycling Club and a bond was instantly made between a couple of children from Cardiff who lived for speed and success on the track.

Rowe, 27, is embarking on his third Tour, and Thomas, 31, his eighth.

Olympian Thomas has recovered from the shoulder injury which forced him to pull out of the Giro d'Italia in May.

The two riders will support Chris Froome's bid for a fourth Tour victory.

Rowe has come a long way since his days of playing on the streets of the capital with the slightly older Thomas in tow, but he can not quite believe just how successful they have become.

Geraint Thomas (left) and Luke Rowe (right)
"It makes it all that bit more special to go and do something like that alongside a good mate like Geraint."

"It is still quite strange sometimes when you think about the whole story with me and Geraint in that how long ago it was that we were two little kids racing around Maindy Flyers," Rowe told BBC Wales Sport.

"Messing around on the street on our BMX's together and we kind of slowly but surely gone through the ranks together.

"He is three or four years older than me so he was always that one step ahead."

Causing Carnage

With Thomas being a little bit older, Rowe says he looked up to the double Olympic gold medallist.

"To go through the ranks together and see each other progressing and bounce off each other a bit, to now be going year-on-year to the Tour de France the biggest bike race in the world together," Rowe added.

"Just two Cardiff lads bombing around Maindy causing carnage, to going to the best bike race in the world and being successful, it is a pretty cool story."

Wheels and weddings

The two riders have a very close relationship away from the track and roads, with Thomas being given the special task of being an usher at Rowe's wedding.

The Tour de France is one of the toughest road races in the world, but for Rowe it is a little bit more special with a fellow countryman in the team.

"He is a pretty close mate on and off the bike. On a personal note he is one of the ushers at my wedding so he is a super close mate," he said.

"It makes it all that bit more special to go and do something like that alongside a good mate like Geraint."

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Early Giro exit 'depressing' for Geraint Thomas

Excitement for the ultimate test

The Tour gets underway in Dusseldorf in Germany on 1 July, and once again there will be two Welshman tackling the roads for Team Sky.

Rowe was pleased that he made the selection for the event and will once again be road captain.

"Excited really, I mean it has been a long process even just to get selected for the team it is quite a tall order, with the strength and depth that they have there," said Rowe.

"There is always someone who will replace you straight away if you are not quite one hundred percent, so first and foremost it was a case of make sure I got selected.

"Now it is a case of going there for three weeks and doing the business.

"I have ridden in 2015 and 2016 and both times Chris Froome was successful and Team Sky won the Tour de France, so hopefully we can go back and try and replicate that and make some history."

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