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Tour de France 2018: Geraint Thomas secures historic first Tour victory as Dumoulin wins Stage 20 time-trial

Pete Muir
28 Jul 2018

The Welshman gears up to become third Briton to win Tour de France

Team Sky's Geraint Thomas has made history by becoming the third Briton – and first Welshman – to win the Tour de France. There is still one more day of racing to go, however, barring accident, the final stage into Paris is usually a procession that has no bearing on the eventual outcome of the race.

Thomas's third place on today's individual time-trial was enough to keep him at the top of GC. Sunweb's Tom Dumoulin won the stage with a time of 40'52", which was enough to secure his second place spot on the podium for the overall.

Team Sky's Chris Froome took second place in the time-trial, just one second behind Dumoulin, which helped to move him up into third place overall, after Lotto NL-Jumbo's Primoz Roglic lost 01'11" in time to Froome.

Thomas's win means that by the end of tomorrow Team Sky will have won six of the last seven Tours de France, with three different riders. Thomas is the first of those riders to have been born in the British Isles.

Story of the stage

The penultimate stage of the 2018 Tour de France was the last chance for Sky's rivals to upset the British team's plans for a sixth win of the world's biggest bike race. It was always going to be a big ask.

Stage 20 presented the riders with a 31km time-trial in the Basque region of southwest France, a stone's throw from the Spanish border.

The technical parcours was peppered with sharp bends, short punchy climbs and some steep descents, made all the more sketchy by wet weather. Towards the end of the course, a 300m section ramped up to 20%. 

The potential for crashes was high.

At midday (French time) lanterne rouge Lawson Craddock of EF Education-First Drapac rolled off the ramp to be the first man out on the course. With his number 13 dossard pinned upside down, as tradition (or superstition) dictates, The American was still nursing a broken shoulder blade, and was clearly emotional to have made it all the way through the Tour.

Team Sky's Geraint Thomas, wearing the leader's yellow jersey, would have to wait another four hours 29 minutes, and 145 riders, before his turn would come.

In the meantime, the early benchmark was set by Mitchelton-Scott's Michael Hepburn with a time of 42'15". It would be another couple of hours before Movistar's Marc Soler managed to better that time by a mere five hundredths of a second.

Soler was quickly overturned by Søren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb), who was in turn pushed into second spot by Sky's Michał Kwiatkowski.

When it came to the GC contenders, Dumoulin had the daunting task of beating Thomas by 02'05" in order to take the yeallow jersey. In third place, Lotto NL-Jumbo's Primoz Roglic needed to overhaul Dumoulin by 19 seconds to move up to second, while Froome needed to beat Roglic by 13 seconds to get into the top three.

Roglic proved to be the big loser of the day, losing a hatful seconds to Froome to cede his third place spot on the GC.

Froome put in a powerful performance, overhauling Kwiatkowski's time by an incredible 49 seconds to take the lead. However, Dumoulin managed to beat Froome by a single second to take the stage honours.

Despite Dumoulin's impressive time, Geraint Thomas was not to be denied. The Welshman, who had shown such resilience throughout the course of the Tour, proved his strength once again.

He came home just 14 seconds behind Dumoulin to take third place in the time-trial, maintain his lead on GC, and secure the first ever Tour de France win for Wales.