Thomas tightens Team Sky’s grip on Tour de France
Welshman Geraint Thomas tightened Team Sky’s grip on the Tour de France when he handed the British outfit their sixth title in seven years on Sunday and there is no sign that their domination will end anytime soon.
Thomas produced a near flawless performance to become the third British and Team Sky rider to triumph after Bradley Wiggins (2012) and Chris Froome (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017). Dutchman Tom Dumoulin finished second for Team Sunweb after also taking the runner-up spot in the Giro d’Italia won by Froome, who ended up third overall.
Norway’s Alexander Kristoff won Sunday’s final stage, largely a 116km procession from Houilles to the Champs-Elysees, during which Thomas enjoyed some champagne before heading to the finishing line in a bunch sprint.
“I got into cycling because of this race. I remember running home from school to watch the end of the Tour de France and the dream was always just to be part of it and that came true back in 2007,” Thomas told the crowd during the victory ceremony.
“Now I’m stood here in the yellow jersey and it’s just insane. It’s incredible and it’s a dream come true. “To be riding round (the Champs Elysees) and winning it, you’ve got to pinch yourself. It won’t really sink in probably for a few months. Right now it’s like a whirlwind. I seem to be floating around on cloud nine.”
Froome’s failure to beat Thomas also showed how difficult it is to complete a Giro-Tour double, with Marco Pantani being the last man to achieve the feat in 1998 during the doping-tainted era. Thomas, who won two mountain stages – including one on the top of the iconic Alpe d’Huez – emerged as the strongest man in the race as he gained ground on his two rivals after taking the yellow jersey at the end of stage 11. Only in the final time trial did he lose time on Dumoulin and Froome, but he had already virtually wrapped up the title in the mountains.
“Thomas was the absolute strongest over the last three weeks,” said Dumoulin. “The strongest rider won the Tour de France,” Froome said. “It was clear once we hit the Alps, Geraint was in better condition than I was.” Thomas’s victory will come as a relief for Sky, especially in the wake of Froome’s popularity nose-diving in France after he was cleared of a doping offence months after testing positive for excessive levels of an asthma drug. Froome and other Team Sky riders, including Thomas, were booed by the crowd standing on the side of the road throughout the three-week race.
1. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) 83hrs 17mins 13secs
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Team Sunweb) +1min 51secs
3. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +2mins 24secs
4. Primoz Roglic (Slo/Team LottoNL-Jumbo) +3mins 22secs
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/Lotto NL-Jumbo) +6mins 8secs
6. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale) +6mins 57secs
7. Mikel Landa (Spa/Movistar) +7mins 37secs
8. Daniel Martin (Ire/UAE Team Emirates) +9mins 5secs
9. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus/Katusha-Alpecin) +12mins 37secs
10. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar Team) +14mins 18secs
Stage 21 result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/UAE Team Emirates) 2hrs 46mins 36secs
2. John Degenkolb (Ger/Trek-Segafredo) same time
3. Arnaud Demare (Fra/Groupama-FDJ)
4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Team Dimension Data)
5. Christophe Laporte (Fra/Cofidis)
6. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg/Quick-Step Floors)
7. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita/Bahrain-Merida)
8. Peter Sagan (Svk/Bora-Hansgrohe)
9. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita/Wanty-Groupe Gobert)
10. Jasper de Buyst (Bel/Lotto-Soudal)
(Source: Reuters and BBC Sport)