THE final real test was the individual time trial and Welshman Geraint Thomas handled it with aplomb, virtually clinching the 2018 Tour de France. JOHN TREVORROW reports:
GERAINT Thomas is about to be crowned as a fitting new champion of the Tour de France. Barring an accident in the Final Stage, the procession into Paris, the 32-year-old Welshman will give Team Sky their sixth title in seven years.
The 32-year-old Welshman was the strongest rider on the Tour and not once did he show the slightest sign of weakness. He effectively secured victory in the second last stage, finishing third in the time trial.
“It’s insane,” an excited Thomas said after his triumphant ride.
“Tour de France! I can’t believe it. I’m really trying not to cry. It’s unbelievable.
“I tried not to think about it [victory], just take it day by day. I’ve won the Tour de France, man … I don’t know what to say.”
The big Dutchman Tom Dumoulin was magnificent in defeat and was the only real challenger in this bike race. His slim victory in the time trial was a fitting reward for three weeks of aggression.
Chris Froome managed to drag himself back on to the podium with a gallant second place, only one second behind Dumoulin. But in what seems to be the story of this tour, the French managed to have one last crack at Froome.
As Dumoulin crossed the line, the officials announced that Froome had beaten him by one second, then only a few seconds later announced there had been an error and it was big Tom by one second.
Over the past three weeks Froome has been spat on, booed every day and then tackled from his bike by an officious gendarme. Any wonder he threw up his arms in frustration.
Heading into Paris, Thomas leads Dumoulin by one minute 51 seconds and Froome by 2:24.
Sky claimed the race in 2012 with Bradley Wiggins and then racked up four wins with Froome in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 20217.
For the Aussie Mitchelton Scott Team it was a tour of near misses. Without the crashes in the first two days I believe they would have won the stage three team time trial. Then Spanish climbing specialist Mikel got caught in the final 200 metres in the gruelling mountain Stage 11 to La Rosiere and finally Adam Yates attacked on the final climb of Stage 16 to Luchon and escaped alone, only to crash on the descent five km from the finish.
The one bright aspect was Yates’s final time trial. This is the one discipline where he has struggled to match the big boys and to finish 11th, only one minute 26 seconds behind Dumoulin is a very positive sign.
Overall, I thought it was a great Tour. Yes Sky was dominant but the brilliance of Thomas, when most experts predicted he would crack, kept the excitement alive until the final mountain on Friday.
The other positive was watching Team Sky stick it up the unsporting and aggressive French spectators.
Stage 20 results
- Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) 40 mins 52 secs
2. Chris Froome (Team Sky) + 1 sec
3. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) + 14 secs
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) + 50 secs
5. Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) + 51 secs
6. Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) + 52 secs
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) + 1 min 2 secs
8. Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) + 1 min 12 secs
9. Marc Soler (Movistar) + 1 min 22 secs
10. Michael Hepburn (Mitchelton-Scott) + 1 min 23 secs
General classification standings
- Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) 80 hrs 30 mins 37 secs
2. Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) + 1 min 51 secs
3. Chris Froome (Team Sky) + 2 mins 24 secs
4. Primoz Roglic (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) + 3 mins 22 secs
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Lotto NL-Jumbo) + 6 mins 8 secs
6. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) + 6 mins 57 secs
7. Mikel Landa (Movistar) + 7 mins 37 secs
8. Daniel Martin (UAE Team Emirates) + 9 mins 5 secs
9. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) + 12 mins 37 secs
10. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) + 14 mins 18 secs
Author: John Trevorrow
JOHN TREVORROW is a multiple Australian champion road racer and Olympian who has been doing media commentary at the Tour de France for more than 20 years.