Geraint Thomas tightened Team Sky’s grip on the Tour de France when he handed the British outfit their sixth title in seven years on Sunday and there is no sign that their domination will end anytime soon.
Thomas produced a near flawless performance to become the third British and Team Sky rider to triumph after Bradley Wiggins (2012) and Chris Froome (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017).
Tom Dumoulin finished second for Team Sunweb after also taking the runner-up spot in the Giro d’Italia won by Froome, who ended up third overall.
Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) won Sunday’s final stage, largely a 116km procession from Houilles to the Champs-Elysees, during which Thomas enjoyed some champagne before heading to the finishing line in a bunch sprint.
“I got into cycling because of this race. I remember running home from school to watch the end of the Tour de France and the dream was always just to be part of it and that came true back in 2007,” Thomas told the crowd during the victory ceremony.
“Now I’m stood here in the yellow jersey and it’s just insane. It’s incredible and it’s a dream come true.
“To be riding round (the Champs Elysees) and winning it, you’ve got to pinch yourself. It won’t really sink in probably for a few months. Right now it’s like a whirlwind. I seem to be floating around on cloud nine.”
Froome’s failure to beat Thomas also showed how difficult it is to complete a Giro-Tour double, with Marco Pantani being the last man to achieve the feat in 1998 during the doping-tainted era.
Thomas, who won two mountain stages – including one on the top of the iconic Alpe d’Huez – emerged as the strongest man in the race as he gained ground on his two rivals after taking the yellow jersey at the end of stage 11.
Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) confirmed his huge potential by winning two stages and taking the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification.
World champion Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) ground through the last days after a heavy crash to secure a record-equalling sixth green jersey for the points classification and Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) emerged as a possible podium finisher in the near future by winning the white jersey for the best under-25 rider.
It was, however, a disappointing race for France as Romain Bardet showed his limits when he ended up sixth overall after two podium finishes in 2016 and 2017.
No Frenchman has won the race since Bernard Hinault took his fifth title in 1985.
Tour de France 2018 – stage 21 results ( Houilles – Paris):
|1||Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates)|
|2||John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo)|
|3||Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)|
|4||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data)|
|5||Christophe Laporte (Cofidis)|
|6||Maximiliano Richeze (Quick-Step Floors)|
|7||Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida)|
|8||Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|9||Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)|
|10||Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal)|
|11||Timothy Dupont (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)|
|12||Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie)|
|13||Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac)|
|14||Magnus Cort (Astana)|
|15||Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|16||Daniele Bennati (Movistar)|
|17||Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb)|
|18||Edward Theuns (Team Sunweb)|
|19||Mathew Hayman (Mitchelton-Scott)|
|20||Timo Roosen (LottoNL-Jumbo)|
General classification after stage 21:
|1||Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)|
|2||Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)|
|3||Chris Froome (Team Sky)|
|4||Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo)|
|5||Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo)|
|6||Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|7||Mikel Landa (Movistar)|
|8||Daniel Martin (UAE Team Emirates)|
|9||Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin)|
|10||Nairo Quintana (Movistar)|
|11||Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors)|
|12||Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)|
|13||Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|14||Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)|
|15||Egan Bernal (Team Sky)|
|16||Tanel Kangert (Astana)|
|17||Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic)|
|18||Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida)|
|19||Rafal Majka (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|20||Damiano Caruso (BMC)|