The rise and rise of Geraint Thomas

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The rise of Geraint Thomas – ten highlights from the Welshman’s career to date

Team Sky rider renews contract as he targets Grand Tour success in the future

Geraint Thomas has pledged his future to Team Sky, insisting the British WorldTour team is the place to be as he looks to make the next step in his career.

Having risen from track champion to Classics specialist and now GC contender, Thomas has been hailed as one of cycling’s most complete riders by Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford.

Geraint Thomas wants to kick on even further after signing a new Team Sky contract (pic: Sirotti)

And a look back through the 29-year-old’s achievements so far in the sport certainly reflects that.

– Geraint Thomas extends Team Sky contract –

To mark the start of the next chapter in Thomas’ already illustrious career, we’ve picked out ten of the Welshman’s best moments to date.

Start ‘em young

Aged 21 at the time, and in his first year with Team Barloworld, Thomas started his maiden Tour de France thanks to the team receiving a wildcard.

One of five Brits on the London startline, Thomas was the youngest rider in the entire race and went on to finish 140th of the 141 finishers.

At 21, Geraint Thomas was the youngest rider in the race when he made his Tour de France debut in 2007 (pic: Sirotti)

The team, meanwhile, would win two stages and the King of the Mountains competition, while Thomas – the first Welshman to ride the Tour for 40 years – was nominated for the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year Award.

His was certainly a name to remember.

Olympic champion

One of the first intake of the British Cycling Academy programme, Thomas specialised on the track initially and was part of the team pursuit quartet in Beijing in 2008.

The Brits had set the tone for the Games by dominating the UCI Track Cycling World Championships earlier in the year, where – alongside Ed Clancy, Bradley Wiggins and Paul Manning – Thomas won team pursuit gold.

And they followed that up in record-breaking style in Beijing, with the same four smashing the world record in the semi-finals with a time of 3.55.202.

They then shaved another two seconds off that world record in the final, to thrash their Danish opponents and take home the gold medal.

Flying the flag

After becoming a founder member of Team Sky in 2010, Thomas soon found success on the road too, spending several days in the green points classification jersey at the Criterium du Dauphine.

He followed that up by beating team-mate Peter Kennaugh in the national championships to ensure he’d be wearing the blue, white and red striped jersey on Team Sky’s debut Tour de France.

Geraint Thomas wore the British champion’s jersey at Team Sky’s first Tour de France (pic: Sirotti)

And he showed off the jersey with pride as he finished second on the cobbled stage three behind Thor Hushovd after making race-winning break of six riders.

That result, coupled with fifth place in the prologue, saw him pull on the white jersey of best young rider for the first time.

All white

Thomas wore the white jersey of best young rider in both the 2010 and 2011 Tours, holding it from stage three to six in the former and then stages one to seven in the latter.

Having earlier bagged his first stage race win – the 2011 Bayern-Rundfahrt – Thomas finished sixth on the opening stage of that year’s Tour and moved up to fourth overall the following day after Team Sky’s impressive team time trial.

Thomas spent several days in the white jersey in both 2010 and 2011 (pic: Sirotti)

An uphill finish on the Mur de Bretagne on stage four cost him a few seconds but not the white jersey, and Thomas – still in white – then finished fifth behind Mark Cavendish on stage five.

After helping Edvald Boasson Hagen to victory on stage six, things were looking bright for Team Sky but it all fell apart the following day when team leader Bradley Wiggins crashed out of the race with a broken collarbone and his team-mates lost time having waited for him.

Team-mate extraordinaire

That Thomas put personal ambition aside to help his team-mate was nothing unusual, in fact he ended that year doing exactly the same again in some style.

Part of the British team for the UCI Road World Championships, Thomas helped to position Mark Cavendish on the final lap as the last of his lead-out train, before the Manxman sprinted to victory.

The Welshman celebrates with Mark Cavendish after the Manxman’s World Championship win (pic: Sirotti)

When Cavendish joined Team Sky the following year, Thomas then served as his lead-out man at the Giro d’Italia as the Manx Missile won three stages – Thomas himself twice finishing second in that race, in the opening and closing time trials.

Olympic champion again

But while Thomas had begun to excel on the road, 2012 was all about the track again and the Olympic Games in London where he and Clancy were bidding to repeat their 2008 team pursuit success.

Joined this time by Steven Burke and Team Sky team-mate Peter Kennaugh, the quartet went even better than four years earlier – once again smashing the world record in both qualifying and again in the final.

Roared on by the partisan home crowd, Thomas and his three team-mates stopped the clock in 3.51.659 in the final to beat Australia by nearly three seconds.

The world record still stands today, and is the benchmark for those heading to the Olympics in Rio this summer.

Hard man

Thomas quit the track to focus solely on his road racing career after London 2012 and won stage two of the Tour Down Under in 2013 to lead the race up until the penultimate stage.

Meanwhile, good climbing form at the Criterium du Dauphine saw him become an important cog in Chris Froome’s team for the 2013 Tour de France.

Geraint Thomas defied the pain of a fractured pelvis to play a vital role in Chris Froome’s 2013 Tour de France win (pic: Sirotti)

There, however, disaster struck in Corsica as Thomas was one of several riders to crash in a chaotic finish to the first stage.

A fractured pelvis would have meant curtains for most riders, but Thomas is made of stronger stuff – becoming a cult hero to British cycling fans as he went on to finish the race and still play an important role in Froome’s victory.

Commonwealth champion

Thomas’ reputation as a hard man grew even more the following year, thanks to his exploits at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Pulling on the Welsh jersey for the men’s road race, Thomas was one of the leading contenders after a personal best finish of 22nd at the Tour de France just a month earlier.

Geraint Thomas has proved time and time again that he’s one of the toughest riders in the peloton (Pic: Alex Whitehead/SWPix.com)

In a race of attrition, played out in pouring rain, Thomas proved his credentials with a perfectly-timed attack on the last lap to drop Scott Thwaites and Jack Bauer.

Not even a puncture and painfully slow wait for a new wheel could stop the Welshman, who stood atop the final podium after a race in which only 12 riders finished.

Classics success

G cemented his reputation as a hard-as-nails rider the following year, with more success in the face of attritional weather.

E3 Harelbeke was played out in fine conditions and Thomas won there – escaping on Oude Kwaremont to bag his first Classics win.

Thomas celebrates his victory at E3 Harelbeke in 2015 (pic: Sirotti)

But Thomas really showed what he’s made of just days later at Gent-Wevelgem when exceptionally strong winds saw the Team Sky man blown off his bike into a ditch – but he still finished third.

He was unable to add a Monument to his palmares but returned to finish second at the Tour de Suisse before a starring role in Chris Froome’s second Tour de France triumph.

Thomas and Froome finish the Tour de France together after Froome’s second victory in 2015 (pic: Sirotti)

Thomas was in the top ten overall for much of the race himself but felt the effects of his support work for Froome in the final days to eventually finish 15th. However, the race gave Thomas a taste of what might be possible for him at the Tour de France.

Stage race success

Prior to signing his new Team Sky deal, Geraint Thomas has been in top form in 2016 – winning both the Volta ao Algarve and Paris-Nice to prove he is a serious stage race contender.

Geraint Thomas has been in top form in 2016, winning at the Volta ao Algarve and Paris-Nice (pic: Sirotti)

So what next? First up, he’ll be super-domestique for Froome at the Tour de France – where he will likely also have some personal ambition of his own to go better than last year’s 15th. From there, Thomas will continue his evolution into a GC leader and the sky’s the limit.

“After the Tour we can start looking to next year and keep setting bigger and better goals,” he said on signing his new deal. Watch this space.

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