don’t know what to say.”
That bad day didn’t come as Geraint Thomas makes it another Brit to win the Tour de France, in a commanding performance and well deserved victory for the best rider there.
Since the moment he crested La Rosière on stge 11, winning the stage and taking the yellow jersey, everyone was talking about and waiting for Geraint Thomas to have one of those Geraint Thomas days. One of those days when something takes him out of GC contention, or the race completely.
That day never came over the next nine days of racing, in fact the closest G came to having it was on his tenth day in yellow, on the final stage, 21, procession through the Paris suburbs as he got the Welsh flag wrapped around his face, not once but twice.
Yes, there was that little wobble on the stage 20 time trial but honestly it was gonna take much more than that to derail the over two minute lead he had on second placed Dumoulin.
That was the only stage that the Dutchman took time on Thomas, though at the first and second time checks on the 31km course Thomas was actually well ahead of his rivals, only to slow when it was obvious that all he had to do know was get to the finish safely and the race was his.
Maybe he got rid of all that back luck during the Critérium du Dauphiné he won just before the Tour. A route taken by Wiggins and Froome before him in preparation for a Tour victory.
His rides through the three Pyrenees stages were a perfect example of how he was the best rider in the race. Knowing exactly which riders were his real competition, he stuck to Dumoulin and when Dumoulin went he followed immediately and as on those Alp wins he sprinted away from the bunch at the end of stages 17 & 19, to take seconds on the road and bonus seconds to open that lead from just over a minute and a half to Froome, to over two minutes to Dumoulin.
Oh the glee and Froome dropping down the standings, those writing the end of his career weren’t happy when he stormed back to nearly take the time trial. The finish of which didn’t half look dodgy, as if the UCI and ASO were making sure he didn’t get on the podium for the stage win. Bet they and his other critics weren’t happy that he ended up on the podium in Paris, finishing third overall.
Finished? Grand tour career over? He finished third, third after his second GT of the year, of course winning the first one, which was his third straight GT victory. How many GC contenders ride in two GTs running, never mind four straight and it hasn’t just been riding in those four but being a contender in all four. Don’t write that fifth TdF victory off just yet.
But while Froome would have loved to be standing on the top of the podium in Paris he couldn’t have been more happy to have helped, in what little way he could, his mate achieve the ultimate goal.
I’m not belittling the help Froome gave G but of all the GT victories for Sky this was individually one of the strongest and most perfectly ridden races of the lot by the winner. He never looked in trouble and while those on telly talked up all those around him, Dumoulin, Roglic, Kruijswijk, even Bardet and Quintana – who were nowhere – he looked far more in control than any of them. Yeah a couple had their moments but it was one day each, not three weeks solid day in day out.
And that’s the way G kept telling us he took it, day by day and then on the final day he realised there was no next day to worry about, this was it, he’d won the big one and it all came out as yet again, as with the victory on Alpe d’Huez, he was left speechless but this time with a few more tears in his eyes.
A glorious victory, another great one for Sky and Britain, 99 editions of the race with nowt but a couple of fourth places, now six TdF victories out of the last seven races. Funny that they keep trying to come up with a course to stop Froome but then they end up with another Sky winner.
Through the boos, spitting, liquid thrown, punches thrown, pushes. Done with a dignity that certain members of the French crowd along with French members of the cycling establishment, ex riders, current execs, who stirred up a lot of this trouble. Yet some would have you believe that it was Dave Brailsford’s fault, dipshits that believe every word politicians release, or don’t believe you can’t call out those that were very vocal before the race Prudhomme, Hinault, Lappartient and hold them to account for their behaviour. Or indeed state a fact, it didn’t happen in Spain or Italy but only France.
Maybe some of the French public should look at their countryman who won the polka dot jersey. On stage 16 Adam Yates was leading when he crashed, passing him Julian Alaphilippe sat up and pretty much waited for Yates to get back with him, only to be told by his DS to go for the victory. For that and the pat on his back he gave Yates as they met on a Pyrenaean climb many Brits would have been cheering Alaphilippe in his quest for polka. Much in the same way they cheered on Thomas Voeckler in years past.
None of that can take the gloss off a great victory, a victory for the nice guy of the peloton who deserves everything that he’s got for all the work he’s done for others over the years – Mark Cavendish, for Sky and GB when Cav won his World Road Race title, Bradly Wiggins, nearly all of Chris Froome’s TdF victories.
Everything you need to know about the new champion summed up in his victory speech in Paris, Mellow Yellow, so laid back, puffing out his cheeks like his still can’t quite believe it, having to be reminded of who was in the team, by those either side of him and almost forgetting his wife to finish with “Vivre le Tour” and then the mic drop…