Geraint Thomas reflects on a 'whirlwind' Tour de France victory
By Mathew Williams
Last Updated: 31/07/18 12:05pm
Twenty-four hours after winning the Tour de France, the magnitude of the achievement does not seem to have sunk in for Geraint Thomas.
The 2018 champion sealed his maiden Grand Tour victory in Paris on the Champs-Elysees after a near-perfect performance over the three-week race.
"It's a massive whirlwind, it's been manic," said the 32-year-old, who attended a Team Sky homecoming event at Sky Studios in west London on Monday. "It was just an unknown for me. It was the first time I'd raced for the win over three weeks so to do it was amazing. It wasn't really until the night before the time trial on the last day when I actually thought I could pull it off."
Thomas is the third British cyclist - after Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome - and first Welshman to win the Tour.
Castles in Wales have turned yellow to celebrate his victory, and the Cardiff-born rider admits the support he received from Welsh fans in France spurred him on.
"It was incredible," said Thomas. "Every year there are more and more Welsh flags and you always seem to spot them even when you're not looking for them. It means so much and you do get a boost from it on the road in the race."
Thomas was not the only Welsh rider in the Team Sky line-up. Luke Rowe, who grew up with Thomas in Cardiff, admits he is delighted for his childhood friend.
"It's incredible," said Rowe. "We go way back to being eight, 10, 12-year-olds riding BMXs round the streets, and then I look up on the Champs-Elysees and he's on the top step of the podium.
"He's been part of the Tour de France winning team four times prior to this, I think, and that would've been purely working for other people. So when you see someone putting it on the line for other people, throwing away their own chances and then they get rewarded - that's nice to see.
"He's on cloud nine at the moment. Every time you say 'Tour de France champion' he still can't quite get his head around it. I think it's the case for me as well. A kid that you've grown up with has gone on to do that! Chapeau to him for an incredible three weeks."
Thomas and Rowe first met at Maindy Flyers - a youth cycling club in Cardiff's northern suburbs. Alan Davis was their coach and could see Thomas' potential from an early age.
"He was a fantastic kid," he explained. "A little quiet to start with, but the speed with which he learnt and how quickly he became really good made you think; maybe this kid has got something.
"At 13 years old we went to Manchester for the national track championships and he won the bronze medal in an U16 event. That's where he was spotted.
"When Geraint was 16 he did his first-ever junior road race against all the best kids in Britain. I think it was three laps of a 20-mile circuit. On the second lap he bridged across to the lead group on his own, rode away from them with one other rider and then on the final climb he dropped that rider."
Sixteen years later, Thomas is the Tour de France champion and is dealing with the extra attention he is getting in his own laidback style.
"I'm just going to try and take it in my stride as I did in the race," Thomas said. "It's a massive honour to wear the yellow jersey at any point in the race, and the longer I was wearing it the more comfortable I felt in it and everything else that came with it.
"I'm going to catch up on some sleep; it's hard to think at the moment! I'll enjoy the next couple of weeks. Obviously there are still races left in the season, but I'm not sure what my programme will be. Then, I'll set some big goals for next year."