Wiggins: This could just be the start for Geraint Thomas - he could win the Tour again next year
Geraint Thomas has been backed by Bradley Wiggins to retain his Tour de France title in 2019 – after enjoying what his predecessor described as a “phenomenal” victory in Paris on Sunday.
Froome started out as Sky’s leader in the 2018 race but a sensational performance across three weeks from the 32-year-old Thomas saw him emerge from his illustrious team-mate’s shadows to claim his maiden Grand Tour victory.
Speaking on The Bradley Wiggins Show, the man who kicked off Team Sky’s era of dominance backed Thomas to retain the yellow jersey in 12 months – when Dave Brailsford will have to artfully manage the now two Tour de France champions in his ranks.
Wiggins said of the man who claimed gold medals in the Olympic team pursuit in 2008 and 2012: “He’s been to the Olympics and won gold medals plus all the media and build up that goes with that. He’s at that ripe age now, 32, he’s matured as a person and an athlete, and his laid-back approach will continue to carry him through.
" This success won’t change him at all, he’ll still be the same person and the same athlete going forwards and I wouldn’t put it past him to win again next year. This could be the start for him now, he’s won the Tour and it will only drive him on to do it again."
“He never looked in trouble at any point, he’s been relentless there the whole time, never put a foot wrong or looked in any difficulty. He’s been flawless and it’s been a joy to watch. He’s earned every pedal stroke of this win.”
Wiggins won 2008 gold in the team pursuit alongside Thomas but says standing top of the podium in Paris beats even Olympic glory, and that winning the Tour de France will change everything for his unassuming former colleague.
“I think winning the Tour is bigger than the Olympics,” he said on The Bradley Wiggins Show. “With the Olympics you share the honour with others, and would have been further down the pecking order with Mo Farah, and others higher up. But here it’s all about Geraint.
" We’ve watched it evolve over three weeks. We’ve seen it build up, we’ve watched him every day with that raw emotion. As the next few weeks go on, I think the public will want to get to know him more. He’s an incredible guy with a great sense of humour. Get a pint in him and he is the life and soul of the party. "
Wiggins is well placed to know how winning the Tour de France will change Thomas’s life.
"The perception of him will change, people's perception, he will feel the same inside and everything else will be different from now externally.
" Whatever he does, whether he goes to a restaurant or buys a pint of milk... he's going to be very, very famous now. He left home three weeks ago relatively unknown in the general public's eyes - well known in cycling circles and people who followed it - but what he has done now is, the general public will know him and certainly in Wales he probably won't be able to go back to Wales and walk down the street."
“I felt really emotional watching him cross the finish line in the time trial, punching the air. We’ve watched him grow up from a young age… and now he’s the winner of the Tour de France. It doesn't get any bigger than that. It's just amazing. they used to say that to win the Tour de France you had to be some an exotic climate and it seemed so far away to be able to do that, but for him, from Cardiff, the hundreds of thousands of kids he will be inspiring down there to get on their bike on Monday on the track. He is one of us, and he has won the Tour de France - and he is now the biggest name in cycling at the moment, this week. It is phenomenal."