Sat | Oct 20, 2018

Thomas takes Tour title

Published:Monday | July 30, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Britain's Geraint Thomas, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, holds the flag of Wales during the 21st and last stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France cycling race between Houilles and Paris Champs-Elysees, yesterday.

PARIS (AP):

The spits and the jeers. The eggs thrown at team cars. The attempts to unbalance riders, while they rode the most gruelling climbs.

Geraint Thomas never flinched at whatever fans - or his rivals - threw at him or Team Sky.

The Welsh rider was the steadiest rider from the start, the strongest in the Alps and the Pyrenees. Yesterday he concluded his transformation from a support rider into a champion of cycling's biggest race by claiming his first Tour de France title.

"With the boys, that's the main thing for the whole three weeks. We stuck together through some tough times, stayed strong," Thomas said. "Everything just clicked this race."

Thomas successfully defended his lead of 1 minute, 51 seconds over second-placed Tom Dumoulin in the mostly ceremonial final stage.

Four-time champion Chris Froome, Thomas's teammate, finished third, 2:24 behind. Froome rode next to Thomas as they crossed the line and applauded.

Thomas was a support rider during Froome's four victories, but he emerged as Sky's strongest rider in this race when Froome crashed early on and couldn't keep up in the mountains.

Sky - and consequently Thomas - became a target for many fans due to an asthma drug case involving Froome stemming from last year's Spanish Vuelta. Even though Froome was cleared of doping days before the start of the Tour, that didn't stop some fans from abusing the British team's riders throughout the three-week race.

"When there is negativity like that, it brings us as a team closer together," Froome said. "It feels like it's us against the rest of the world. ... You can choose to let it get to you, or you can choose to let it motivate you, and we let it motivate us."

Thomas stormed into the lead by winning back-to-back mountain stages in the Alps, including the iconic climb up Alpe d'Huez, then defended his advantage in the Pyrenees.

During the podium ceremony, Thomas draped the flag of Wales over his shoulders, then ended his victory speech with a mic drop.

"All I can say is that I do it the right way," Thomas said when asked about concerns of alleged doping within Sky. "We train super hard, and there's nothing I can say that will prove it. I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing. It will stand the test of time."