Tour de France: Geraint Thomas completes victory in Paris

Geraint Thomas with the Wales flag

Geraint Thomas was keen to show off the Welsh flag on the run-in to Paris

Geraint Thomas became Britain's third winner of the Tour de France when he crossed the finish line in Paris.

The Team Sky rider, 32, follows Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and four-time Tour champion Chris Froome as Britain celebrates a sixth win in seven years.

Alexander Kristoff won the sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees as Thomas crossed the line arm-in-arm with Froome in the middle of the peloton.

He beat Dutchman Tom Dumoulin by one minute 51 seconds, with Froome third.

Welshman Thomas, who rode in support of Froome in each of his wins, had built up that lead over the previous 20 stages and Tour convention dictates that the yellow jersey is not challenged on the final stage.

Froome was heavy favourite to become the fifth rider to win a record-equalling fifth Tour de France title. He came into the race as defending champion and holder of all three Grand Tour titles, having won the Vuelta a Espana last September and the Giro d'Italia in May.

But his hopes of also matching Eddy Merckx's record of four consecutive Grand Tour victories were ended in the Pyrenees mountains in the final week as Thomas proved the strongest rider.

A procession into Paris

The final 116km stage began in Houilles, to the north-west of Paris, and the riders took a leisurely pace into the capital before embarking on eight laps of the centre.

Team Sky led the peloton into Paris, having allowed France's Sylvain Chavanel to ride clear for one lap in his final Tour in recognition of his achievement of completing a record 18th Tour.

Six riders built an advantage of about 45 seconds as the laps ticked down but they were eventually reeled in on the final lap, with 6km remaining.

World champion Peter Sagan's Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates did the bulk of the chasing, but Norwegian Kristoff outsprinted Frenchman Arnaud Demare and Germany's John Degenkolb.

Thomas rode over the line a few seconds later, alongside Froome, the man he dethrones as champion.

Thomas' Tour pedigree

Thomas' victory comes in his ninth Tour, one fewer than the record for most appearances before winning, held by 1980 winner Joop Zoetemelk of the Netherlands.

Thomas first rode in the Tour in 2007, when he finished 140th of the 141 finishers.

Like many British riders, he raced on both the track and the road in the early part of his career, winning two Olympic and three world team pursuit titles on the track between 2007 and 2012.

His sacrifice in helping Froome win four Tours has meant Thomas' best finish before this year was 15th.

He has also been dogged by bad luck. He fractured his pelvis on stage one in 2013 but rode the remaining 20 stages to help Froome win; in 2015 he crashed head first into a telegraph pole; and in 2017 broke a collarbone on stage nine.

This year, he has ridden a near faultless race to cement his place among Britain's greatest cyclists.

More to follow.

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