After 3 intense weeks, the 2018 Tour de France will crown its newest winner today in Paris. Geraint Thomas will become the first Welshman to don the yellow victory jersey in one of the world’s most important cycling contests.
The 2018 Tour de France is a grueling 3,351 km (2,082 mi) race around the country. The course is split into 21 stages with varying degrees of incline and elevation. This year is the 105th running of the Tour, which started from Noirmoutier-en-l’Île on July 7 and will finish in Paris on July 29.
Thomas, of Team Sky, started the Tour in a support role for teammate and defending world champion, Chris Froome. But the Pyrenees mountains on stages 18 and 19 proved to be the great equalizer and Thomas came out ahead of the 4 time Tour winner.
“This is bike racing. There are one thousand and one different scenarios on the road (…) It was clear once we hit the Alps, Geraint was in better condition than I was.” –Chris Froome
In May, Froome became the he first rider since 1983 to hold all three Grand Tour titles simultaneously when he won the 2018 Giro d’Italia after an intense and taxing race battle. He graciously slipped into the role of domestique when Thomas began pressing for the lead.
Yesterday, Thomas finished the 20th stage, an individual time trial, 14 seconds behind Dutchman, Tom Dumoulin, and just one second ahead of Froome. But he is 1 minute 51 seconds ahead in the overall racetime with one stage left. Tradition dictates that he will not be challenged on the final day and the 21st stage will be his victory procession. He will be the next Tour de France Champion. All he has to do is get to Paris.
Crashes, broken bones, barely finishing. This is Thomas’ ninth Tour de France, having never placed better than 15th. In 2013, he crashed in the opening stage, fracturing his pelvis. Yet, somehow finished the race! In 2017, he crashed out of the Tour, breaking his collarbone in the process. In 2007 he was the youngest rider in the competition. He finished, but in second to last place. It has not been an easy road!
This year’s Tour de France boasts a prize pool of €2,287,750. Geraint Thomas, as winner of general classification, will get €500,000, with the second and third placed finishers receiving €200,000 and €100,000 respectively. Apart from the overall winner, there are other classifications that will receive cash prizes, jerseys, and titles. These classifications include points, mountains, young rider, team, and the Combativity Award which is given to the most aggressive rider of the race.
After 20 stages, Peter Sagan, of Slovakia, will take the green jersey and the points classification title. The mountains division and the pink jersey will likely go to Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe. Pierre Latour, also of France, was this year’s best young rider after 20 stages, earning him the white jersey. The team classification is sitting with Team Movistar.
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