Thomas’s stun­ning Tour tri­umph

Cycling Weekly - - WELCOME - By Vern Pitt, fea­tures ed­i­tor

The Tour de France might look, to the ca­sual ob­server, like the other two Grand Tours — there’s a pelo­ton of nearly 200 riders rac­ing around the coun­try­side and over some high moun­tains chas­ing a brightly coloured jersey — but it isn’t.

Not one of those 200 riders is there to make up the num­bers; it’s why the Tour pelo­ton is one of the fastest of the year — ev­ery­one is at the peak of the sport. And when ev­ery­one was ping­ing in July, who was bet­ter than them? Geraint Thomas.

That should be enough to make his vic­tory the best of the year, but it also had style. Yes, Thomas’s win lacked the hay­maker blow fol­low­ing two weeks of Muham­mad Ali-style rope-a-dope that Chris Froome’s Giro-snatch­ing Finestre at­tack was. Nor was it the gutsy come­back story of Si­mon Yates’s Vuelta win. But it was the cul­mi­na­tion of years of try­ing and fail­ing and it fi­nally com­ing right.

There was no bro­ken pelvis like in 2013; no litany of small crashes like in 2014; no dra­matic bar­rier-leap­ing like in 2015; no rib in­juries like 2016; no mo­tor­bike to knock him off like in the 2017 Giro; or a bro­ken col­lar­bone like in last year’s Tour. And there were no bad days ei­ther, no doubt helped by not hav­ing to work for Froome early in the race. This vic­tory had been a long time com­ing so it felt big­ger.

It had panache too — sure, he didn’t smash min­utes into ri­vals but he didn’t have to. His two stage wins on La Rosière and most mem­o­rably Alpe d’huez looked like the work of a poacher but they were a sub­tle dis­play of strength. As he re­veals in his book: “I was al­most thrown by how com­fort­able it had been,” win­ning on La Rosière and then just a day later he be­came the first Brit to win on Alpe d’huez with an­other mas­ter­class of rac­ing nous and strength.

He might have been vic­to­ri­ous on the 65km stage to Col de Portet had Nairo Quin­tana, by then far down on GC, not been al­lowed to fly free of the pack.

De­trac­tors may point to the fact that Thomas made over a minute of his even­tual vic­tory mar­gin in the first nine stages, largely through oth­ers’ mis­for­tune. But he then put a fur­ther 31 sec­onds into Tom Du­moulin and 1.25 into Froome.

Thomas was the best in the tough­est race of the year. Even Froome and Yates can’t claim that.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.