Geraint Thomas rode to an impressive victory on Sunday as he won the Paris-Nice ahead of rival Alberto Contador in a scintillating last stage.
This year Thomas has been given more freedom to lead Team Sky as he has been chosen as the backup General Classification rider to Chris Froome at this year’s Tour de France.
And after impressive showings at the Tour last year, coupled with some superb early season form now, the Welshman is in prime position to target a podium in France this summer.
But the win at Paris-Nice showed all of the Thomas’s qualities, at one point during the stage he was 30 seconds behind Tinkoff-Saxo’s Contador, after the Spaniard attack on the Col d’Eze.
But some superb descending and a little help from Lotto Soudal’s Tony Gallopin, Thomas recovered and brought the Spaniard back to within five seconds to take a well deserved victory.
‘This confirms I can be up there with the best stage racers in the world’ says Thomas
Despite winning races such as E3 Harelbeke and the Volta ao Algarve, this win is the biggest win for Thomas to date; and the manner in which he rode in makes it even sweeter.
After the victory, Thomas said: “I knew I had to keep fighting and I never gave up. Having Sergio there with me at the end really helped, and I owe Tony Gallopin a few beers as well!”
It was a real team effort from Sky, and one teammate in particular helped Thomas during the stage, and that was Sergio Henao who helped pace Thomas back on the descent from the Col d’Eze.
“I can’t thank my team-mates enough. They’ve been 100% committed to me all week so to finish the job off for them is an amazing feeling,” said the 29-year-old.
The win should give Thomas renewed confidence that he could one-day win a Grand Tour, he has the attributes to succeed, it is just about believing now.
“This confirms I can be up there with the best stage racers in the world and I’ll definitely celebrate tonight. You don’t win very often, so when you do, you have to enjoy it,” Thomas said in closing.