Geraint Thomas confident he can be future Grand Tour leader

Team Sky crossed the finish line in Paris in triumph after helping Chris Froome reclaim the Tour de France title he first won in 2013
Team Sky crossed the finish line in Paris in triumph after helping Chris Froome reclaim the Tour de France title he first won in 2013

Geraint Thomas said his performance at the 2015 Tour de France has given him confidence that he can lead Team Sky in a Grand Tour in future.

The Welshman, who finished 15th, was praised for the support he gave Team Sky leader Chris Froome, who secured his second Tour title on Sunday.

Thomas, 29, was fourth until Friday's 19th stage to La Toussuire, where his efforts finally took their toll.

"It's certainly given me a lot of confidence and encouragement," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to it [the future].

"I think if I was a leader here I'd run the podium close, if I wasn't doing so much [work] early on - even though that's easy to say now it's certainly something I'd like to look at."

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford has already tipped Thomas as a future leader at a Grand Tour, either at the Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a Espana or Tour de France.

Even with his domestique duties helping Froome reclaim the title he first won in 2013, Thomas had been in contention for a podium place himself entering the final week.

But a crash on Monday's stage into Gap, where he was bumped off the road by Warren Barguil, cost Thomas time and then his efforts finally caught up with him on Friday as he slipped from fourth place to 15th.

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"It was so close to being a really good result," the Cardiff-born rider told ITV Sport, "but 15th, I never thought I'd get that coming here.

"It was always going to catch up with me but I hoped it would be on Monday [the 16th stage between Bourg de Peage and Gap before Tuesday's rest day], not on Friday."

Despite falling away on that mountainous stage, that saw Froome and his lieutenants having to repeatedly fend off attacks, Thomas was delighted with their achievements.

Team Sky, with Froome in particular, have also had to fend off insinuations of doping - a charge the team strenuously denies - and suffered intimidation and abuse from a small number of spectators.

"It's an incredible feeling. We did it in 2013 but this time just feels even better, maybe because I played more of a role.

"In '13 I was at the back of the peloton for most of the race, but this time it's been an amazing three weeks.

"We really pulled really well together as a team, took all the attacks - both on and off the bike - and I think it pulled the Tour together."