Geraint Thomas has said that winning the Tour de France is “just overwhelming” after assuring himself of victory in Paris tomorrow by maintain an overall lead of 1 minute 51 seconds over Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin after today’s individual time trial.
There were emotional scenes after Thomas, in the yellow skinsuit of race leader, crossed the line in Espelette to be greeted by his wife Sara, who had travelled to France this morning without telling him, so as not to break his concentration.
The 32-year-old could also be seen on TV in a lengthy embrace with Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford – who was also his performance director at British Cycling, with whom Thomas won two Olympic gold medals in the team pursuit – ahead of the podium presentations following today’s stage.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Thomas. “It’s just overwhelming. I didn’t think about winning the Tour de France for the whole race and suddenly … I’ve won the Tour, man! I can’t speak.
“It’s just incredible,” he continued. “The last time I cried is when I got married. I don’t know what’s happening to me.”
Regarding today’s stage, which he finished in third place, 14 seconds behind Dumoulin, he said: “I felt good today. I felt strong in the time trial. I felt really good actually.
“I heard I was up and I pushing a bit hard in the corners sometimes. [Sports director] Nico [Portal] told me to take it easy and be a bit more relaxed, just to make sure I win the Tour. That’s what I did.
“It was stressful,” he added. “I believed I could beat the guys here. It was the biggest stage of all over three weeks. It’s wonderful!”
Brailsford, who has now guided a third British rider to Tour de France victory with Team Sky, told Eurosport how he and Thomas had approached today’s stage: “We talked about how he’s ridden in big Olympic finals, and it’s a similar type of day.
“You have to keep focused on the process and don’t let your mind wander [thinking] ‘what happens if I win, what happens if I lose, what happens if I crash, what happens if it rains, what happens if it doesn’t? What are my competitors going to do?
"And all you can do is focus on the process and he’s done that over years and years and years and I think those years of experience is what he had to bring to the table today.
"I think he was nervous. There’s always going to be a performance anxiety at these events at this level – everyone has it, it’s just human – and it’s how you manage it [which is key]. He’s managed it superbly.
"He's shown he was the strongest rider in the race and it was highly improbable he wasn't going to be as strong as them today, so as long as he stayed on his bike he was pretty safe."
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.