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 . sport
30 July 2018 - 18:47
Tour de France glory for Geraint Thomas in Paris
Team Sky a dominant force at Tour de France again
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CYCLING, TOUR DE FRANCE 2018. After 21 stages of racing over 3,351 km, this years Tour comes to an end in Paris with Geraint Thomas having secured a historic victory!

Eleven years after his first Tour de France, Geraint Thomas finally won the most prestigious title in cycling in Paris yesterday.

The 32-year-old Welshman is the third British winner of the Tour in the last seven years after Bradley Wiggins and four-time champion Chris Froome. His victory means that Britain has provided every winner since 2012 barring Vincenzo Nibalis success in 2014.

On cloud nine

When I rode the Champs-Elysees for the first time in 2007 that was insane just to finish the race and just to be a part of it, said Thomas. To now be riding round winning it is just incredible. It wont really sink in for a few months, its just a whirlwind now. I seem to be floating around on cloud nine.

Maybe when Im like 70 sat in a corner of a pub telling some 18-year-old what I used to be itll sink it. Its incredible, the stuff of dreams.

There have been plenty of nightmares for Thomas en route to his first Tour de France title. In 2013 he fractured his pelvis on the opening day, but continued until stage 20 in order to help Froomes successful title bid. In 2015 and 2017 his tours were also violently curtailed by accidents.

Peaked in the Pyrenees

This year, however, he rode a flawless race. Although yesterdays 116km stage was completed with the customary leisurely pace including glasses of champagne for Thomas and his Team Sky teammates the Welshman had all but secured his overall victory on Friday in a brutal stage through the Pyrenees.

The mountainous stage had broken Froome, who nonetheless recovered sufficiently for Saturdays time trial to ensure he finished third overall, but the former champion was consistently second best to Thomas throughout the Tour.

Big respect to Froomey, said Thomas, when asked about the teammate he had deposed. It couldve got awkward, there couldve been tension, but you were a great champion and Ill always have respect for you.

Sandwiched between the two Team Sky riders in the general classification was Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, while Sundays final stage was won by Norways Alexander Kristoff in a sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees.

Anything is possible

Thomas was further back, on cruise control, having done the hard work in the preceding three weeks, but later, as he stood on the podium, draped in the Welsh flag, he talked of how he had reached the pinnacle of professional cycling. You just keep going and keep believing, he said. Anything is possible, with hard work everything pays off in the end.

What they are saying about Geraint Thomas

Welsh footballer Gareth Bale, who went to the same school as Thomas: Incredible achievement from a fellow Whitchurch High pupil! What a win!

2012 Tour winner Bradley Wiggins: Difficult to sum up how incredible this guys performance over the last 3 weeks has been, amazing to have seen how hard this man has worked over the last 15 years. A truly amazing athlete, congrats.

Team Skys Chris Froome: It was a great moment being up on the podium with G. Its amazing to see how far hes come and Im so proud of him.

Team Sky director Dave Brailsford: [Its] the most emotional of all our victories Geraint, growing up in Wales, worked so hard for such a long time hes a classic make the sacrifice, its worth it kind of guy.

Former Olympic champion turned TV pundit Chris Boardman: Hes the most popular winner for years. No disrespect to those who have gone before him but hes always laid it down for someone else and sacrificed himself for someone else.

The Week
www.theweek.co.uk
Jul 30, 2018

Team Sky a dominant force at Tour de France again and it doesnt seem to be slowing down

The Tour de France has a new champion, but the narrative remains the same at cyclings biggest race: Team Skys domination has no limits.

By placing Geraint Thomas on top of the podium on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday, the British outfit ended three weeks of racing which sadly lacked suspense with a sixth win in the past seven Tours.

Once again, Team Sky riders have been untouchable on the roads of France, controlling the race with ease as Thomas became the third Briton to win the Tour after Bradley Wiggins and four-time champion Chris Froome.

Since Wiggins won in 2012 wearing a Team Sky jersey, the richest team in the peloton has claimed every edition of the race except one, in 2014 when Froome crashed out and Vincenzo Nibali of Italy emerged victorious.

Even the expulsion of Gianni Moscon for punching a rival during Stage 15 had no effect on Skys well-oiled machine, as the team managed by Dave Brailsford completed a fourth consecutive Grand Tour win.

We were well behind our goals the year we started, we did better the next year then we won the Tour with Bradley, said Brailsford, who has supervised the team since it was created in 2010. Chris Froome learned a lot by riding alongside Bradley, he gained a lot of experience, then Geraint learned from Chris. It is passed on from a generation to the next. We are always thinking about the future.

Although Thomas has yet to extend his contract with Sky, both he and Froome are expected to be part of the team next season. At 32, Thomas is in the best form of his life while the 33-year-old Froome will try again to equal five-time Tour winners Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

More talent is already emerging behind them in Egan Bernal, the 21-year-old Colombian rider who competed at his first Tour this summer. Bernal did amazing work for Thomas and Froome in the mountains, assisting both in the final Pyrenees stage. Despite his relentless efforts as a domestique, Bernal still managed a 15th-place finish overall.

In addition to Bernal, Brailsford has also recruited two of the brightest prospects in cycling, 21-year-old Pavel Sivakov and Tao Geoghegan Hart, who is 23-years-old.

My job is to look three or four years ahead, Brailsford said. Our riders in their 30s wont be there forever. Within the next two or three seasons, I will have the opportunity to add other youngsters in the group. This year, Egan has been looking very carefully at was Chris does, he kept asking questions, looked at everything we do to win the Tour. It was the best possible experience for the future.

Skys rivals have often complained of a lack of means in attempting to dethrone the British giant at the Tour. Sky has an estimated budget of $40 million, about double that of Tom Dumoulins Sunweb team.

Of course, they have more money to spend, it makes life easier sometimes, said Dumoulin, the runner-up to Thomas. Of course, having a big budget matters. But it would be too easy to say that Geraint Thomas had a big advantage just with this team. He was the strongest rider.

Brailsford is adamant its not just the money, but also Skys expertise in developing talents that help him lure the best riders.

Bernal has a very, very modest income, he said. When compared to the average World Tour income, its not much, most of the riders are making more money.

David Lappartient, president of cyclings governing body, has suggested that a salary cap limiting team spending could be introduced to ensure more suspense in the future, while Tour director Christian Prudhomme would like to see a ban on power meters monitoring cyclists watts to make the race less predictable.

Because of these power meters, riders know for how many kilometres and minutes they can sustain their effort, Prudhomme said. Because of that, bluff strategies have disappeared from the race, and they should return.

By Samuel Petrequin
The Associated Press
Mon., July 30, 2018


 
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Aleksandra Nacheva (BUL) jumps to triple jump gold at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 – 15 July 2018 - 18:47
Grigor Dimitrov has his first marquee title after beating David Goffin to win the ATP Finals – 19 November 2017 - 22:55
2016 – 09 October 2016 - 17:04
Rio rocks to carnival charm as 2016 Olympic Games come to a close – 22 August 2016 - 17:13
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