Meet the man who wants to travel the Tour de France route in just 10 days
Like most cycling fans around the world, Jack Thompson had the same dream. “I would love to go down the Champs-Élysées as the leader of the Tour de France, but my management has never led me in that direction,” he said. “I want to give hope that you don’t have to go the conventional way and that you can do things differently and be successful, even in the face of adversity.”
Battling a wave of trials and doubts is part of Thompson’s story. Struck by depression and “super scared to talk with anyone” at just 12 years old, the Australian went on to suffer from drug addiction and addiction after graduating from college and being admitted to rehab. Between and after the two important chapters of his life, there was only one thing that kept him in a positive frame of mind: his bike.
He tried to run in Belgium, the professional dream was a goal, but it never materialized. Instead, the now 32-year-old realized long-distance cycling was his calling. “I have a bit of an obsessive personality,” he laughs. “And my mind is very manic: I always think of something and I can never relax.
“But cycling is a meditation for me. This is the only time I can switch off, not think about other things going on in my life that might be causing me anxiety or complicating things.
For a man who has already driven from sea level 3,300m in Taiwan four times in a row nonstop and last year set a Guinness World Record for the most kilometers in a week, or 3,505km , Thompson is on the verge of the biggest challenge of his life: on Monday July 5, he will start from Brest, the starting city of this year’s Tour de France, and aim to reach Paris within 10 days, two days before that the peloton does not begin its processional race.
As Lachlan Morton does, Thompson also does the transfers and will average 350 km per day, for an ascent of about 6,000 m. “I gave the peloton 10 days in advance, but I will be in Paris before them”, laughs the sympathetic Australian.
Inventing his challenge The Amazing Chase (presented by Wahoo), Girona-based Thompson will first encounter rainy and windy conditions in Brittany – “How do northern Europeans cope with this dark and cramped weather? The weather is so hot, ”he reflects half jokingly, half seriously – before reaching the Alps, heading south then crossing the Pyrenees, then arriving in the French capital on Friday. July 16.
Far from being intimidated, Thompson is excited. “I basically do two stages in one day and save them day in and day out,” he says, adding that he hopes to run at an average speed of between 27 and 30 km / h.
Thompson will eat primarily a liquid diet, taking up to 80% of his calories in bottles and eating real food when the cravings set in. It’s not romantic, but it’s effective. He will be supported by a team who is also documenting the trip for a film, and he will sleep around five hours each night in hotels.
“I don’t really have any nerves,” he says, possessing the confidence of a man who relishes his identity as an ultra-endurance athlete.
“I’m really comfortable climbing, I have no problem with that. I guess one thing that worries me a bit is the transfers as it can be quite easy to waste half an hour here or there, and that adds up over the 10 days. I have to manage the time very strictly.
“What else? Honestly, I’m just excited about it all. I get a lot of satisfaction from setting a goal, breaking it down into little chunks, and then hitting every little goal. I get an endorphin surge from that mentality. everyday, not having to please anyone else, that’s fucking cool.
Then he breaks his momentum. There is a problem. “French roads, hey… they’re crap,” he opines. “I guess I took the quality of the roads in Spain for granted. To be honest, I’ve never really ridden in France, it’s a whole new territory. It would be better if their roads were more like the Spanish ones. “
Thompson will adapt. That’s what he does. The first time cycling was part of his life, in his early teens, it set him in a new direction. “It all started with triathlon,” he recalls, “and having those daily and weekly goals allowed me to focus. I wasn’t that depressed with the world.
It was at college that Thompson gave up two wheels “and I noticed my mood got even worse.” Wanting to “become a man, I felt like a boy,” he trained to gain muscle and weight and his drug problems began. He was reluctant to try the bike again, but eventually gave in to his father’s encouragement. “That first round was like ‘f ** k, why didn’t I keep doing this? “
His flirtations to become a pro never took off, also hampered by the diagnosis of chronic fatigue. “Once the symptoms disappeared, I jumped on the bike and decided to make a living by cycling,” he reveals.
He raced the 2015 Transcontinental Race and has since added to his portfolio of challenges: completing three Everesting challenges in three consecutive days and in three different countries, and also roaming Portugal from the bottom to the top in record time.
Riding on the Tour, along with all the long transfers, is his biggest test yet. “Lachlan and I are friendly,” said Thompson of his compatriot’s challenge which generated a lot of interest. “What I think is cool is that we are going off the beaten track of traditional cycling: we are showing that another way is possible and ultra-cycling is super cool.”
When the Tour reaches its crescendo in the French capital, far from the post-race team parties, we may well find two slightly crazy Australians, decidedly inspiring in a corner of a bar. “It will be nice to share a beer with Lachlan in Paris,” says Thompson. “But I’ll get past him before that.” And all those around the race.
You can follow Jack’s challenge here – https://jackultracyclist.com/theamazingchase