'Losing the plot in public' – Geraint Thomas reacts to Lefevere-Alaphilippe spat

Welshman expresses his sympathy for fellow riders facing public criticism from team managers

Clock14:54, Tuesday 27th February 2024
Geraint Thomas has offered his take on the controversial comments made by Patrick Lefevere

© Dario Belingheri / Velo Collection via Getty Images

Geraint Thomas has offered his take on the controversial comments made by Patrick Lefevere

Geraint Thomas has labelled Patrick Lefevere’s recent comments about Julian Alaphilippe “bonkers” and expressed his sympathy for riders who have been in the public firing line from the Soudal Quick-Step boss.

Alaphilippe appeared on the latest episode of the Geraint Thomas Cycling Podcast, and though the conversation was recorded before Lefevere’s comments made the headlines, Thomas and his co-host Tom Fordyce discussed the situation in the podcast introduction.

“It was bonkers, that, wasn’t it?,” Thomas said of the incident that seemingly sparked discussion throughout the peloton, as well as in the press.

Read more: Patrick Lefevere looks to diffuse ‘tense atmosphere’ as he rows back on Julian Alaphilippe criticism

Before giving his own take on the situation, which included Lefevere accusing Alaphilippe of “too much partying” and placed blame upon his partner Marion Rousse, Thomas tempered his opinion of the long-standing Belgian team boss.

“To be fair, I’ve got a lot of respect for Patrick. What he’s done over the years with Quick-Step [is] unbelievable: the results they’ve got, the results they’ve had, the way they ride, it’s incredible the team and the success they’ve had, so so much respect for him,” he said.

“But recently with these sorts of outbursts, it’s just a bit weird,” he continued. “For a team boss with so much history and respect from people to just sort of… losing the plot in public, basically isn’t it, it’s mental. With Sam Bennett he had this thing and now Alaphilippe.”

Sam Bennett was on the receiving end of Lefevere’s ire in 2021, when he accused the Irishman of “mental weakness” after his decision to leave the Belgian team and return to Bora-Hansgrohe.

“As a rider, I feel sorry for my fellow riders, you know?,” Thomas said. “I know Sam well, less well than Julian, but it’s just crazy the situation, it shouldn’t be done in public. Whatever his thoughts like that, just deal with it behind closed doors.”

Read more: Marion Rousse rejects Patrick Lefevere’s criticism of Julian Alaphilippe

Invoking the culture from professional football, Thomas did say that he was not totally against team managers speaking about their riders or players’ performances, but not in the way that Lefevere had.

“Although I do like a little bit of public criticism, if it’s good for that person,” Thomas said, before referencing the head coach of the Welsh national rugby team. “Warren Gatland is a bit like that isn’t he, if he knows it’s going to get the best out of someone he’ll not rip them to shreds, but just a little like ‘oh yeah he didn’t have the best game’.

“But this was just like… I thought [Lefevere] was drunk, mate, to be honest,” he joked. “Maybe he was, I don’t know.”

Thomas ended the podcast by once again offering his sympathy for Alaphilippe, with the two both set to race again this weekend at Strade Bianche.

“It can’t be nice having that in public, the talk of the town and not in a good way. So I’m hoping for a great year, it would be great to see him back.”

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