The Switch That Won Team Sky the Tour de France

Geraint Thomas was supposed to support four-time defending champion Chris Froome. But Thomas proved he was the stronger rider and kept the yellow jersey.

Team Sky spends all year honing every possible detail to win the Tour de France, the race that is practically its raison d’être.

No detail is too small. Sky famously studies hotels along the route to know which ones have air conditioning and which ones don’t. It prepares custom bedsheets for the riders. It invests millions in sports science.

So it took the peloton by surprise halfway through this summer’s Tour when, all of a sudden, the team that leaves no detail to chance didn’t even seem to know who its strongest rider was.

The expectation had always been that it would be Chris Froome, the four-time Tour champion coming off a stunning, if physically taxing victory in the Giro d’Italia. At least, it was until the Tour reached the Alps. That’s when his teammate, a 32-year-old support rider from Wales named Geraint Thomas took over the leader’s yellow jersey.

Froome, the most accomplished stage racer of his generation, became a deluxe domestique. And Thomas, who had never won a Grand Tour, morphed into the Sky leader, all the way to victory on the Champs-Elysées on Sunday.

“It’s incredible just to be sat here with this jersey. Insane,” Thomas said ahead of Sunday’s ceremonial stage into Paris. “A big thanks to Froomey…I appreciate having the best stage rider ever riding for me.”


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