“It was a great day out!”

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Vive le Tour!

That’s how Geraint Thomas summed up his “epic” (also his term) exploit last Saturday on the Tour de France.

Putting aside all patriotic sentiment, his performance that day showed beyond doubt that here is a young (25 year-old) pro rider who can mix it with the best in this, the most renowned and toughest of all cycle races.

He and five others broke away only 2 kms into the total 211 kms of that mountainous stage, and was not caught until some 6 kms to go to the finish.

He was alone and ahead for some time, but this was not a stage without plenty of incidents for him.

He could and should have been first to top the fearsome Col du Tourmalet, but allowed a Frenchman (Jeremy Roy) to overtake him in the final kilometre to the summit. This cost him dearly, because he didn’t know the €5,000 Jacques Goddet prize was on offer for the first rider over the top. As he said: “That was quite a lot of beer money!”

On the preceding descent, he ran out of road – not once, but twice, all within the space of a few hundred metres. Luckily, he was not injured.

On the final climb, he was caught by the peloton with about 6 kms to to go to the finish, and he lost a further 5 minutes before ending his momentous day.

Thomas’ immediate consolation was to win €2,000 for being the most combative rider of the day.

Tour de France sunflowers

No time to enjoy the spectacular scenery!

But, much more significantly, his longer-term prospects really opened up with this outstanding performance. He didn’t get much coverage in the daily (non-specialist) press, but he was certainly noticed by many actively involved in the sport.

He proved his potential as a future Tour contender, and is apparently already involved in discussions with several teams who may take him on once his current contract with SkyTeam ends this year. He showed he can climb mountains – whereas, in previous Tours, he’s not been outstanding, although he has proved to be a reliable team support member. He is still young enough to be eligible for the Tour White Jersey (for young riders up to the age of 26).

Today, at the start of Stage 16, he is a creditable 42nd. overall, the best of the (remaining) Brits in the race; 18th. in the Green Jersey (points) competition; 11th. for the Mountain competition; 10th. place for the White Jersey; and his team is in 9th. position (out of 22).

As they say in Cardiff: “The boy done good!”

Following the second and final rest day on Monday, there are only six days until the Tour finishes in Paris. Between now and Sunday, the riders face the Alps (where one report today said it was snowing!) and an individual time trial (in which Thomas is counted among the top guys). Fingers crossed for a good final result!

Today’s stage has just finished, with minor adjustments to the major placings. Frenchman Thomas Voeckler has, somehow, managed to defend his Yellow Jersey since the first week, much to his (and everyone’s) surprise. But, he’s been riding competitively, despite those tough days in the Pyrenees – who knows what he’ll do in the coming Alpine stages?

So, five days left! Thrilling stuff!

And Geraint Thomas is now in 40th. position overall.

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