Team GB cyclist Geraint Thomas blasted post-Brexit travel rules: Our sport is at risk!

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The Welshman, 35, is competing at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, which were delayed from last year due to COVID-19. He is hoping to win Britain’s latest gold medal at the Games in the men’s individual time trial today. The athlete previously topped the podium at the men’s team pursuit at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, before defending the title in London in 2012.

His most notable victory was in the 2018 Tour de France, where he became the third Brit to win the legendary race.

However, Geraint has also dabbled in the world of politics, coming out against post-Brexit travel rules, claiming it could damage his sport.

Geraint and fellow cycling legend Chris Froome were among a dozen riders to pen a letter to the Government last month expressing their concerns about travel restrictions now the UK has left the EU.

They said new rules limiting how much time riders can spend in Europe could hinder development.

The letter read: “While each of us has taken a different journey through our sport, what is clear to all of us is that we would not have made it this far without the intensity of regular top-level racing and the ability to test our limits in unfamiliar settings.

“We write today because we fear that same road to success for today’s young British riders is arguably more challenging than ever, and risks being wiped out altogether for most.” 

Former world champion Lizzie Deignan also signed the letter, along with Anna Christian, Dani Christmas, Mark Donovan, Lizzie Holden, Joss Lowden, Dan McLay, Connor Swift, Alice Towers and Fred Wright.

The athletes’ appeal was addressed to Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

They highlighted Brussels’ strict rules, which limit non-EU nationals to “short-stays” of 90 days in a 180-day period in the bloc’s Schengen area of free movement.

The letter continued: “We are the fortunate ones, with professional contracts with top tier teams. 

“But if we had experienced the current restrictions on visa free residency early in our careers, we might not have achieved that privileged position.” 

The riders go on to address the impact of European borders being shut down because of COVID-19.

They ask for “dialogue” with the government but warn that if no solution is found, Britain “will see many riders lose the opportunity to gain such critical experience.”

One suggestion they put forward is that of an amateur sportsperson’s visa, and insisted a solution is needed by 2022.

In this Olympics campaign Geraint has had a rocky start, crashing in the men’s road race at the weekend in which Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz took the gold.

The incident involved his British teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart, whose bike slipped on a metal ridge on the surface of the road.

Geraint said he felt “beaten up but not too bad”, adding that he would rest to focus on Wednesday’s time trial. 

Team GB as a whole has had one of its best starts to a Games in recent memory, taking home a haul of 15 medals so far.

Swimmer Adam Peaty bagged Britain’s first gold of the Games in the men’s 100m breaststroke on Monday, becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title.
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