Geraint Thomas answers his phone for this interview when it is exactly 8pm in Spain, just when the nightly round of applause from the country’s citizens in support of their beleaguered health workers in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic breaks out across the town where I’m living. “Oh right,” Thomas says when I explain what the noise is in the background. “We’ve got that happening in the UK too, in an hour’s time.”

But it’s not just Spain or Britain. As we all know too well by now, there is virtually nowhere on the planet out of the reach of coronavirus. And as Thomas is at pains to point out, he is acutely aware that in the bigger scheme of things, the importance of the Tour de France, cycling and sport in general are all now eclipsed by the gravity of the global pandemic.

But in almost everybody’s personal careers and lives, coronavirus has thrown a spanner in the works this spring. In Thomas’s case, his professional worries centre on this season. What makes those concerns far more intense for the Welshman is that last summer, 12 months after he was standing on the Champs-Elysées podium receiving the final yellow jersey of the 2018 Tour, he abruptly found that - as he puts it with refreshing honesty to -he’d become

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