Wales

Tour de France glory for Geraint Thomas in Paris

Geraint Thomas - Tour de France winner 2018 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Geraint Thomas - Tour de France winner 2018

Geraint Thomas is the first Welshman to win the Tour de France after crossing the Paris finish line in triumph on Sunday.

He sipped champagne and carried the Welsh flag along the 116km procession to the French capital Paris.

His achievement has been marked with celebrations across Wales.

The Cardiff rider described the victory at the Champs-Elysees as "insane" and "the stuff of dreams".

He becomes the third Briton to win the Tour de France, after Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and Sky team mate Chris Froome.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption He was crowned champion in Paris

"It's unbelievable it's going to take a while to sink in," said Thomas.

"The support - the Welsh and the British flags - it's unreal - it's the Tour de France."

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption The crowd at the Ride My Bike cafe in Cardiff were delighted to see Thomas bring the yellow jersey back to Paris.
Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Geraint Thomas's childhood coach Debbie Wharton was delighted to see him on the podium in Paris.

A large crowd, many of whom members of the Maindy Flyers Youth Cycling Club where Thomas started in the sport, cheered as he crossed the line at the Champs-Elysees.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Team Sky boss Sir David Brailsford, a proud Welshman himself, hands Geraint Thomas the Welsh flag

Excitement had been building at the I Want to Ride My Bike cafe in Cardiff, where Flyers and other supporters gathered to cheer on Thomas.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Current Maindy Flyers members watch former member Geraint Thomas on his way to winning the Tour de France
Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Thomas is a hero to everyone on of them
Image caption Jess, left, a Maindy Flyer, said it was amazing being a member of the same cycling club as Thomas

Jess, 11, said: "It is amazing cycling at the same club as Geraint. It is inspiring to see him as the Tour de France winner and I am here today to support him through the last stage."

Chris Myhill, from Nelson, said Thomas had waved at him while he was out cycling in Radyr.

Image caption Chris Myhill said Geraint Thomas had waved at him while cycling in Radyr.

And Browning added: "Congratulations Geraint - you are the winner of the tour but also, you are the most amazing ambassador for cycling, for Cardiff and for Wales."

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Media captionSupporters congratulate Geraint Thomas on his Tour de France win

And it appears Thomas was getting himself pumped before the start of the final stage by listening to Hymns and Arias.

Across Wales, buildings - including castles and the City Hall in the Welsh capital - were lit up in yellow overnight to mark the occasion.

Former Whitchurch High schoolmate and Real Madrid star Gareth Bale tweeted his support for Thomas, describing his Tour win as an "incredible achievement".

Cardiff Castle has been decked in banners and flags congratulating Thomas on his victory.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Cardiff Castle has been decked out with banners congratulating Thomas.

The First Minister Carwyn Jones described Thomas's success as a "fantastic achievement".

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Media captionFirst Minister Carwyn Jones congratulates Geraint Thomas on his win in Paris
Image copyright Cadw
Image caption Castles across Wales were lit yellow overnight in celebration, including Caerphilly
Image copyright The National Library of Wales
Image caption The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth was among the buildings bathed in yellow

Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted the victory was "a huge achievement that everyone in the UK can be proud of".

And former Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated Thomas for his "phenomenal performance", adding that people in Wales and the rest of the UK are proud of him.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns described the 32-year-old as an inspirational role model, adding: "His grit and determination over the last few weeks demonstrates how much he wants to win this epic race.

"Geraint is a brilliant ambassador for the sport, for Wales and thoroughly deserves his place in history - llongyfarchiadau mawr."

Image copyright Cardiff Council
Image caption Cardiff council marked the celebration on Sunday morning

Huw Jones-Williams, head teacher at Whitchurch High School. said: "It is amazing to see that one of our former students has won the Tour de France and become the first Welshman to do so.

"Geraint is already a legend at the school being a triple World Champion, double Olympic gold medallist and Commonwealth gold medallist amongst his many incredible achievements."

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Media captionDancing in the Paris streets: Geraint Thomas fans celebrate
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Thomas clinched the victory with a stunning time trial performance on Saturday
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Thomas's wife Sara was a surprise guest at the finish line after the crucial time trial

The Welsh Sports Hall of Fame congratulated Thomas and said it was another example of Wales "punching above its weight" in sport.

In Cardiff, hundreds of cyclists met to toast Thomas's victory with a Sunday evening ride from the Senedd in the Bay to Cardiff Castle.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Cyclists, most in yellow, came together for a celebratory ride on Sunday evening.
Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption It was a short ride from the Senedd in Cardiff Bay to Cardiff Castle.

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