How Thomas became the toast of the nation

Geraint Thomas' life changed immeasurably when he claimed the most prestigious prize in cycling - and now he's the British public's golden boy.

Becoming only the third British rider to win the Tour de France after Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome back in July, the 32-year-old double Olympic gold medallist not only thrust himself to the top of the cycling world but left an indelible mark on sport in the United Kingdom.

On Sunday night, Thomas was honoured as the 2018 BBC Sports Personality of the Year after topping the public poll.

The Cardiff native, who shone on the track at the start of his career became the youngest rider to take part in the 2007 Tour de France and also the first Welshman to compete in the famous Grand Tour event for nearly 40 years.

His love affair with the 21-stage showpiece race would come to a head this year but in the interim, Thomas tasted success on the Olympic stage.

In 2008, he travelled to Beijing as part of GB’s team pursuit quartet and helped his nation break the world record in the gold medal match against Denmark as they stormed to victory.

Four years later, all eyes were on Thomas and co at London 2012 and they were back shattering records again, setting a new benchmark during qualification before besting Australia to take gold once again.

Also a three-time team pursuit World Champion on the track, the Tour de France remained in Thomas’ sights and this year, the Welsh wonder found the formula to climb cycling’s Everest.

Over three gruelling weeks, Thomas nervelessly ruled the roost, claiming the crown in his ninth Tour – only Dutch great Joop Zoetemelk competed in more before winning.

The Welshman won two stages including the infamous Stage 12, featuring the legendary ascent of Alpe d’Huez, with Thomas becoming the first person to do so while wearing the yellow jersey.

He was imperious from then on, holding on to the yellow jersey and beating Dutchman Tom Dumoulin by one minute and 51 seconds, with British compatriot Froome third.

With that unforgettable victory, Thomas became one of British sport’s leading lights – and now he has the gong to show for it.