Thomas effectively seals his first Tour de France title
ESPELETTE, France — No longer merely a support rider for Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas is going to Paris in the yellow jersey.
The Welshman with Team Sky effectively sealed his first Tour de France title by protecting his lead in the penultimate stage time trial on Saturday.
Thomas takes a lead of 1 minute, 51 seconds over Tom Dumoulin into the mostly ceremonial finish on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.
“It’s just overwhelming,” Thomas said. “I didn’t think about it all race, and now suddenly I won the Tour.”
Dumoulin won the 20th stage by one second ahead of four-time champion Froome, who leapfrogged Primoz Roglic into third place overall.
“After a difficult day yesterday I did not think it was possible,” Froome said. “I’m very, very happy. Being on the podium with Geraint is a dream.”
Thomas finished third in the stage, 14 seconds behind, but that was more than enough with an advantage of more than two minutes at the start of the day.
Thomas was a support rider during Froome’s title rides but he became Sky’s undisputed leader when Froome cracked in the grueling 17th stage through the Pyrenees.
Wearing an all-yellow skin suit on a bike in the red, white and blue colors of the British flag, Thomas was the last rider to start.
In a few drops of rain, Thomas was quick to regain control when his wheel appeared to lock up coming around a tricky, tight corner early on the route. Still, he was first at the two checkpoints before slowing his pace in the final kilometers.
“I felt good. I felt strong. I felt really good, actually. I heard I was up and maybe I was pushing it a bit hard on some of those corners,” Thomas said. “Nico (Portal, Sky sports director) told me to relax, take it easy and just make sure I won the Tour. And that’s what I did.”
At the finish, Thomas let out a loud scream and held his arms out wide in celebration. He embraced his wife, Sara Elen, as soon as he got off his bike.
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