Geraint Thomas to win the Tour de France following impressive time trial

GERAINT THOMAS has become Britain's third Tour de France winner since 2012.

The 32-year-old joins Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome in the pantheon of UK winners after powering home in the 18-mile individual time trial to Espelette.

 Geraint Thomas hugs his wife Sarah Elen after winning the Tour de France

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Geraint Thomas hugs his wife Sarah Elen after winning the Tour de France
 Geraint Thomas celebrates after retaining the yellow jacket after the 20th stage

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Geraint Thomas celebrates after retaining the yellow jacket after the 20th stage

And he continues GB's incredible domination of the biggest race in cycling – and may have salvaged Team Sky's sullied reputation.

Humble champion Thomas now ranks alongside the likes of Gareth Edwards, Gareth Bale, John Charles and Joe Calzaghe as a true Welsh sporting great.

Thomas finished a thrilling day's ride behind stage winner Tom Dumoulin, who pipped Froome by 1sec to victory with 'G' third, 14sec back on the Dutchman.

The Cardiff flier will roll into Paris with a 1min 51sec advantage over Dumoulin, while four-time champ Froome will stand on the third step of the Champs-Elysses podium.

 Thomas will win the Tour de France should he finish the procession into Paris on Sunday

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Thomas will win the Tour de France should he finish the procession into Paris on Sunday
 Thomas becomes the first rider born in the British Isles to win the Tour de France

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Thomas becomes the first rider born in the British Isles to win the Tour de France

 Froome finished second in the stage and will take third overall for the Tour de France

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Froome finished second in the stage and will take third overall for the Tour de France
 It ends a run of three Tour de France wins and three Grand Tour triumphs for Froome

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It ends a run of three Tour de France wins and three Grand Tour triumphs for Froome

As he crossed the line, he was embraced by his wife Sara, before bursting into tears while hugging Sir Dave Brailsford, with a Welsh flag around his shoulders.

Within cycling, a sport so often dogged by finger pointing, bickering and outright cheating, he is one of the most popular winners in decades.

A genuinely nice guy, who isn't flashy, brash or nasty – Thomas has commanded respect through determination, hard work and brilliant opportunism.

Now 3million residents of Wales owe him a pint.

In fact, they should re-name Cardiff's boozy takeaway lane Chippy Alley and call it Chippy Allez.

 Tom Dumoulin claimed the stage win but it was not enough to take the Yellow Jersey from Thomas

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Tom Dumoulin claimed the stage win but it was not enough to take the Yellow Jersey from Thomas
 Dumoulin rode in the world champion jersey, as the best Time Trial rider at the moment

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Dumoulin rode in the world champion jersey, as the best Time Trial rider at the moment

Team Sky have had their doubters, but of all their six Tour wins, this is arguably the finest.

It is a true realisation of the visions of Sir Dave Brailsford, Rod Ellingworth, Tim Kerrison and, more recently, Nico Portal.

They found a rider, they took him to pieces, they put him back together and they built a champion.

A race that threatened to be overshadowed by Froome's inhaler fall-out, which he was excused for by Wada, turned into a breath of fresh air for the sport.

And Team Sky's £26million annual budget riles rival teams, who have a fraction of such a sum.

But Thomas will now surely be among the favourites for Sports Personality of the Year.

Team Sky’s Jonathan Castroviejo says ‘it will be close’ between Primoz Roglic and Geraint Thomas as Tour De France finale nears

 

GERAINT THOMAS has become Britain's third Tour de France winner since 2012.