DÜSSELDORF, Germany (VN) — The Geraint Thomas train has been coming down the tracks for a long time. Today in Düsseldorf, he essentially pulled into the station with a Tour de France stage one time trial and yellow jersey victory.
The Welshman served Great Britain, helping the team to pursuit gold at the 2008 Olympics. He returned to do so in 2012 in London. He guided Chris Froome to his three Tour de France titles. And along the way, he developed from a classics rider to a bonafide stage racer.
Team Sky gave him the chance to lead its grand tour team along with Mikel Landa in the Giro d’Italia this May. Both, however, suffered in a crash caused by a police motor bike in stage nine. Thomas abandoned days later and critics doubted if he could ever become a grand tour star.
Today’s win on the Düsseldorf’s wet streets, his first Tour stage, and subsequent yellow jersey, a first for Wales, underscores Thomas’s talent to grand tour greatness.
“It’s hard to say if I could’ve won the Giro, but certainly I was in the best shape I’ve been,” Thomas said. “I try not to think about it really. What happened, happened. This goal of the Tour kept me motivated.”
[pullquote align=“left” attrib=”Geraint Thomas”]”It’s hard to say if I could’ve won the Giro, but certainly I was in the best shape I’ve been. I try not to think about it really. What happened, happened. This goal of the Tour kept me motivated.”[/pullquote]
Thomas lines up again to help his Monaco neighbor and teammate Froome win the Tour de France.
Sky will not say it, but Thomas is plan B in case the worst happens with Froome. In 2014, Froome crashed and abandoned. The team lacked a serious second option, though it first relied on Richie Porte, now leading BMC Racing.
For Thomas, this 2017 edition could be his chance after slugging through the British Cycling ranks and finding his way with Barloworld before team Sky launched in 2010.
Even if Froome races to a fourth title, Thomas could fly free and podium behind. Consider what happened in 2012, when Sky’s Bradley Wiggins won the overall and Froome placed runner up.
“This is obviously a big boost for my morale,” Thomas continued. “It’s nice, yeah, but the goal is still helping Froomey.
“If I stay up there in the GC great. It’d be nice to stay up there and keep progressing. It’s nice feeling to just be up there with the yellow jersey. I still can’t believe it to be honest.”
“Geraint is a mature athlete on top of his game,” Sky’s general manager David Brailsford said. “He had a rough time at the Giro, but he bounced back physically and mentally needed to get going again.
“You’ve got to take these opportunities in life when they come along,” he continued. “You can’t not be happy for Geraint, he deserves this so much. It’s a dream come true for him and us.”
Thomas, like many children, was charmed by the Tour. His father made sure they had Eurosport at home so that he could watch every stage on television.
“To be on the other side of the camera now, putting on the yellow jersey, is stuff of dreams.”
The dream is a result of hard work. The ultimate one would be win a grand tour, and Thomas has labored already to achieve such a victory. Now, he must find his opportunity.