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Thomas thanks Froome ahead of yellow jersey triumph

Thomas thanks Froome ahead of yellow jersey triumph

Having worn the leader's yellow jersey over the Alps and through the Pyrenees, only one more challenging stage stands in the way of Geraint Thomas winning his first Tour de France.

From his days as a former student at Cardiff's Whitechurch High School, where fellow alumnae include the former British Lions captain Sam Warburton and Real Madrid footballer Gareth Bale, to today when the once young cyclist on the rise is now Tour de France champion.

"The last time I cried was when I got married", Thomas said as he teared up.

Team Sky had won their sixth Tour - not with the rider they expected, but rather with the strongest one.

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford told Sky Sports News that the win had been "the most emotional of all our victories".

"It's very nice to win today, what can I say".

Thomas' first appearance in the Tour de France in 2007 saw him place 140th out of 141 finishers. "Nico was on the radio and told me to make sure I win the Tour, don't risk anything".

On Sunday, it was now Thomas's turn to add a first Grand Tour triumph to an already glorious career with victory in the Tour de France.

Team Sky will also be left to rue the loss of a rider just before the race heads to the harsh slopes of the Pyrenees, where the whole team will be needed to ensure Thomas and Froome retain their strong positions before the Stage 20 time trial.

Thomas emulates Wiggins in converting himself from an Olympic team pursuit champion into the victor of the world's biggest road race.

Team Sky celebrate at the end of the Tour de France
FRANCOIS MORI AP Team Sky celebrate at the end of the Tour de France

Roglic took victory on stage 19 to Laruns by 19 seconds, enough to propel the Slovenian above Froome into third place overall going into Saturday's decisive time trial.

"It has been a great race - if we look at all our individual riders they are fantastic", Thomas, who won two mountain stages including one up the iconic Alpe d'Huez climb, told a news conference.

Thomas and the peloton will complete the arduous, three-week race with a 72-mile ride that ends on the Champs Élysées.

Team Sky sat up together, chinking glasses, smiling and laughing for the cameras.

Geraint Thomas barely had to attack to all but secure his maiden Tour de France title on Saturday, taking full advantage of Team Sky's strength in depth and acknowledging that his imminent victory was the result of collective work. Thomas said afterward. "I can't speak". I was maybe pushing a bit hard sometimes.

"I only have respect for him".

"I believed I could beat the guys here, but still on the biggest stage, over three weeks, it's insane. If he was going to be on the podium, he was going to be on the top step", said Froome.

France's Julian Alaphilippe and world champion Peter Sagan, of Slovakia, both finished within the time cut and are set to claim the polka dot jersey for the mountain classification and the green jersey for the points classification, respectively.

Frenchman Pierre Latour will finish 13th overall and will clinch the white jersey for the best Under-25 rider.