It’s gone under the radar quite a bit in recent years after the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong and the various scandals that have surrounded cyclists, but this year’s Tour de France has been quite a memorable one. And with just one stage to go on Sunday, it looks like the winner of the grand tour will be Geraint Thomas of Wales. Should he win, after what is a procession through Paris, he will be the first Welshman to win the Tour.
This, of course, is a bit of a surprise given that the team he is on- Team Sky- had a clear leader heading into the race in Chris Froome. In addition to having the Tour de France four times before, he came into the race on a streak of three straight Grand Tour victories (last year’s Tour of France and the tours of Italy and Spain as well). So, he was very much supposed to be the winner, if anyone from the dominant Team Sky were to win.
But as the three weeks has unfolded, it has become more and more clear that Froome simply didn’t have the legs underneath him to challenge for a fourth straight grand tour victory. Thomas, though, has looked assured at every step. When challengers, namely second place Tom Dumoulin, who won Stage 20 on Saturday in the time trial, looked to attack him and eat into his gap, he always kept pace with them. This was the game he, and his team played, and they are just one step away from getting him to victory on the Champs-Elysses on Sunday.
That stage, the final stage, is considered to be a parade. Because it is all flat, running loops through the capital city, no one is really able to make an attack to gain a lot of time on opponents. Doing so is essentially going against the unwritten rules and is frowned upon by fellow competitors. The stage win will be very much up for grabs, but in terms of the overall victory, Thomas has it barring an unlikely injury or mechanical failure. And despite challenges from great riders, he has well and truly earned the right to hold onto the Yellow Jersey permanently.