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Giro d'Italia

Who is Thomas Gloag? Roglič’s latest Giro lieutenant is a mathematician charting a ‘very steep learning curve’

Jumbo-Visma climbing ace gets fast-tracked to rookie corsa rosa after rapid ride through the Trinity ranks with Tom Pidcock, Ben Healy.

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Who is Thomas Gloag, Primož Roglič’s latest lieutenant at the Giro d’Italia?

Turns out the WorldTour rookie isn’t just a reserve rider that got lucky.

Gloag is a mathematician with Tom Pidcock and Ben Healy on speed-dial, and a rider hyped as Britain’s hottest new climbing talent.

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Gloag only started racing late in his teenage years, and now, just five months deep into his three-year contract with Jumbo-Visma, the long, lean Londoner is one of the least likely riders in the Giro d’Italia peloton.

“As a young guy it’s super exciting to be here,” he said Saturday.

“I wasn’t planned to do a grand tour at all this year, it wasn’t ideal in terms of the plan that I had, but for me it’s so special to be here.”

When Jan Tratnik’s training injury Friday shore Jumbo-Visma its fourth Giro rider in a week, Gloag was last reserve standing.

A whirlwind 18-hour turnaround of packing bikes and bundling into a flight out of Andorra made the 21-year-old neopro one of the youngest to roll down the ramp Saturday in the Abruzzo TT.

And that’s only where Gloag’s Italian adventure begins.

Mashing pedals, learning maths

Gloag shot to the eyeline when he beat back a bunch of GC climbers at Volta Valenciana.

Gloag arrived at the Giro’s 11th hour after a quietly crushing start to his first full year in the WorldTour.

Second place behind Tao Geoghegan Hart on a pivotal hilly stage of Volta a Valenciana in February and a string more high-profile climbing top-10s saw Gloag handed a “reserve rider” slot for the Giro d’Italia, and a ticket to the pre-corsa rosa camp on Teide.

Not bad for a rider who admits he barely knew what he was doing just a few years ago.

“The last months have been a very steep learning curve,” Gloag told VeloNews.

“The training approach here with Jumbo-Visma is completely different to what I had before, and the nutritional side. Everything is new really. It feels really like I’m a beginner.”

Gloag’s lesson-learning rookie season with his Tour de France-topping team got put onto fast-forward Saturday.

The Brit’s 10-day ride to fourth overall at the 2021 “Baby Giro” is his longest race to date, and he previously admitted weaknesses in descending, fuelling, and positioning.

“There’s still a lot to learn, but it’s been really positive,” Gloag said. “With the resources the team has, I feel in a very good position.”

Fortunately for Gloag, learning is his thing.

“I was studying Maths at the Open University. But it’s been put on the back burner a bit since I joined the team, just because I have a lot less time on my hands,” Gloag said.

“Previously, I could train, rest a bit and then do some maths, whereas now I’m always thinking about the next day. I now do anything else I can to keep my mind active instead.”

Before a bike race, many riders are scrolling Instagram or zoned out on music.

Meanwhile, Gloag is feeding the intellectual beast, reading up on the region or researching the sights. At the UAE Tour, he was expounding on local fortresses and mosques, and he will no doubt be devouring the Giro’s “Garibaldi” roadbook through the next three weeks.

“It’s fascinating being out on races, you get to learn so many new things, see different cultures,” he said.

Pidcock, Healy, and Trinity’s WorldTour academy

Gloag (second left) raced on Trinity with Chris Blevins, Ben Healy, Luke Lamperti, Tom Pidcock, and more. (Photo: Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Gloag became the ninth Brit on the Giro startsheet when he jetted into the Abruzzo early Saturday morning.

And like many of his fellow UK-born WorldTour colleagues, Gloag landed his big grand tour gig after riding through a well-worn British talent pathway.

Gloag was born in Dulwich, London, and just down the road from the historic – and still functioning – Herne Hill Velodrome.

He counts Ineos speedster Ethan Hayter and Bahrain-Victorious breakaway fiend Fred Wright as old-time friends after they learned their craft at the local VC Londres team, and has a contacts book any agent would beg for.

Three years at Trinity Racing, the UK’s answer to Hagens Berman Axeon, put Gloag into the orbit of Tom Pidcock, Ben Turner, and fellow Giro rookie and Ardennes star Ben Healy.

“I’m good friends with Tom [Pidcock], and Ben Healy,” he said.

“My first race was when Tom won the Baby Giro. A guy like him, he’s always a guy that I looked up to, and still now if I need some advice I can just send him a message and ask him some questions.”

Gloag hails former Team Sky racer and current Ineos Grenadiers staffer Ian Stannard as an essential cog in his rapid ride toward the corsa rosa.

“I had Ian as my director at Trinity. He’s been there, done that, got the T-shirt as a pro rider. I picked up a lot from him about the mentality it takes to be a professional bike rider,” he said.

“That prepared me for the step to Jumbo-Visma. I’ve got a long way to go, but the foundations were set at Trinity.”

Gloag admits he still doesn’t know much about his capacities after a short but rapid rise into pro cycling.

“The next three years is really finding out firstly, what kind of rider I am, and secondly, where it looks like I’m going to fit into the professional cycling world,” he said.

Three weeks racing through the mountains and mayhem of Italy will no doubt help point the way.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.