Geraint Thomas: Team Ineos cyclist raises £350,000 for NHS with gruelling bike ride

Geraint Thomas
Geraint Thomas finished second at the 2019 Tour de France, having won the prestigious race in 2018

Former Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas has raised more than £350,000 for the NHS after completing a trio of 12-hour rides over three days.

Thomas rode on a turbo bike in his garage at home in Cardiff for 36 hours over the course of three days from 07:30 until 19:30 in his bit to help raise funds to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

"No exaggeration, the last two hours were the hardest I have ever had on the bike," said Thomas.

"I could barely sit down."

Professional cycling is on hold while the Tour de France has been put back from June and July until August and September.

So Thomas took on the challenge on an indoor training bike in his garage, using a cycling training app to record his progress.

He likened the challenge to doing eight or nine stages of the Tour de France.

Thomas said his final day diet included rice, chicken, welsh cakes, brownies, cookies, a bacon sandwich and plenty of coffee.

Geraint Thomas during his ride to raise money for the NHS
Geraint Thomas during his ride to raise money for the NHS

"It has been solid," said Thomas.

"I am going to have a week off to recover from this. It was 36 hours in the saddle over three days which would normally be a big training week for me.

"The longest ride I have done on the road is eight hours and 20 minutes in a group and that was with a coffee stop.

"On a turbo the longest was three hours and there is a lot of difference from that and riding outside where you have the scenery and downhill.

"Here I am just in my garage."

'Maybe I could have just done two days'

The biggest thanks goes to the NHS - Thomas

Thomas had a personal as well as wider fundraising reasons for taking on the challenge.

"My mum's gone back to work at Velindre cancer hospital in Cardiff - she's retired three times already and my best mate's a GP up St Helens way as well," said Thomas.

"I've heard so many stories about what people are doing and it made me just want to try and play a tiny, tiny part by trying to help out in a small way.

"It is easy to do a little video and say thanks and how much it means but I wanted to contribute.

"I needed to have some sort of challenge to get people to donate. Part of me is thinking maybe I could have just done the two 12 hours rather than three but it has been great.

"I just want to thank everyone who donated. Like everyone around the country I have been humbled by the hard work, bravery and professionalism of the NHS.

"I was surprised by how many people supported it. All the donations were a massive surprise. I thought £50,000 was a decent target so to get over £330,000 is unbelievable."

The 33-year-old had encouraged anyone who wanted to join in to do so via the Zwift app, with the ride split into two-hour sections.

Other cyclists in the virtual ride included Wales rugby legend Shane Williams.

"A couple of the rugby lads have been involved, we have had George North on and we had a good chat with him," Williams said during the event.

"Ryan Jones has also been on and a few others having a bit of banter with Geraint and I have ended up speaking to people from all over the place like Japan and Germany.

"It is a great experience and not every day you spend so much time on a bike. It is great fun and Geraint has raised a lot of money for the NHS, so it's been fantastic."

Williams announced on Saturday that he would take on his own charity cycling challenge, aiming to ride 774 miles in one week on an indoor training bike.

The former Wales and British and Irish Lions wing will start his challenge at 08:00 BST on 22 April.

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