As is his way, he did not look for excuses. “Sometimes, it’s pure bad luck,” he said. “Today, I have to take it on the chin as it was my fault.” Thomas did make the point that he had not been able to ride the route on closed roads, as would normally be the case at bigger races.
“I did the recon in traffic, so it’s pretty pointless really, other than knowing where the uphills and downhills are,” he said, adding that might have been to blame for some of the other crashes. England’s Dan Bigham was another notable one. But as he admitted, it was the same for everyone.
“It’s my fault. I was thinking ‘it’s a sweeping left’ but suddenly there are barriers in the way and their legs are sticking out, and it’s ‘Oh s—!’”
Asked whether it cost him the gold, Thomas all but agreed. “Obviously, it’s not just the actual time on the floor, not moving,” he said. “My brake was bent at a right angle and the gear thing was off. But it was more mentally.
“But I’ve had good practice of trying to refocus in time trials with something going wrong. It’s frustrating but at the end of the day, you know, with that happening, it is good to come away with a medal.”
Thomas’s presence certainly added stardust to an event that also featured a 46-year-old immigration officer from Walsall, racing for the Falkland Islands, and a 48-year-old doorkeeper at the House of Commons, who was racing for Ghana. Both finished around 16 minutes behind Thomas, who was much sought-after for autographs, even from fellow riders. “It’s kind of strange when you have people come into the pen asking for photos that you’re racing against,” Thomas said. “But it’s great.”
The Welshman’s crash was also a bonus for Wright. The 23-year-old south Londoner produced what he called as “the best time trial of my career” and was thrilled with his silver. Coming straight from a brilliant Tour de France, where he infiltrated the breakaway on multiple occasions and finished second on one stage, the ride bodes well for Wright’s chances in Sunday’s road race, where most nations will be keen to avoid a sprint finish, given the presence of the Isle of Man’s Mark Cavendish. “It’s not going to be your conventional pro bike race, where there’s control,” Wright promised. “It’ll be attack after attack.”