Thomas set for Tour de France crown after time trial
28 July 2018 / 16:08
Geraint Thomas has been calmness personified throughout the Tour de France but the emotions finally came out after the time trial that effectively sealed his place in the history books.
The Welshman took no risks on his way to third place on stage 20, finishing 14 seconds behind stage winner Tom Dumoulin, with Thomas’ teammate and long-time leader Chris Froome in second.
That was enough to wrap up the yellow jersey ahead of stage 21, barring an accident on the way to Paris, making Thomas the third Brit and first Welshman to win La Grande Boucle.
Determined to stay in the moment and not take his eye off the here and now throughout, Thomas finally allowed himself the chance to take in the enormity of what he had achieved.
It hit him hard, with wife Sara Elen, whom he married back in 2015, in attendance, and he revealed that the tears that flowed were the first since his wedding day that October.
He said: “It’s unbelievable. I think I can finally let the emotions come. The last time I cried was at my wedding.
“I don’t know what happened then, at least I know what’s happening now. It’s insane, it’s the Tour de France. I can’t believe it.
“I was just really trying not to cry, it’s unbelievable. I never thought about it, it was always day after day but to win the Tour de France, man, I don’t know what to say.”
Thomas has looked in control throughout the Tour, and the two-time Olympic champion took a buffer of two minutes and five seconds into the penultimate stage.
He flew out of the blocks and was leading the way at the first and second intermediate checkpoints, before taking it a little easier on the final section, taking no risks to avoid a potentially catastrophic crash.
Thomas did suffer a scare early on, nearly losing control on one turn, and it was at that point he, along with Team Sky sporting director Nicolas Portal, decided that winning the stage was not worth the risk of losing the Tour.
He said: “(I said to myself) chill out a bit, Nico was on the radio and told me just to make sure I win the Tour and don’t risk anything.
“Before the start I thought it’s not that technical corner-wise but every corner seemed like a 180-degree turn in the end.
“So I just went super slow, made sure I stayed upright. I felt really good, I put the power down when I could and just took every corner super slow.”
All that remains for Thomas now is the 116-kilometre final stage into Paris, with a 1min51sec advantage over Dumoulin in second.
Froome, the four-time champion, will have to settle for third place on the podium, having lost out to Dumoulin in the day’s time-trial by a single second, but his performance allowed him to overhaul Primoz Roglic to make the podium.
For Thomas though, he will go to bed knowing that on Sunday he will follow in the footsteps of Sir Bradley Wiggins, with whom he won team pursuit gold in Beijing, and Froome, who he has supported on each of his four Tour wins.
It’s been a remarkable journey for the man who watched Wiggins’ success from a Team GB training camp ahead of his second Olympic title in 2012.