THOMAS (GBR) Tour win 'massive' for UK cycling, says Sir Chris HOY
GLASGOW - Sir Chris HOY (GBR) has hailed the Tour de France success of his former track cycling team-mate Geraint THOMAS (GBR) as "absolutely massive for the whole of cycling in the UK".
With the 2018 European Cycling Road Championships due to take place in Glasgow on 5, 8 and 12 August, THOMAS became the first Welshman, and only the third British rider, to win the sport's most prestigious event when he crossed the finish line in Paris on Sunday evening (29 July).
"It's quite incredible (but) you kind of get used to incredible things in cycling," said HOY. "The thought that we can have a third British Tour de France winner has become a bit special, it's ridiculous to say that this has become routine."
As per the race tradition, THOMAS rode the 116km final stage from Houilles to Paris unchallenged after retaining the leader's yellow jersey with his third place finish in the time trial on Saturday. He joins four-time winner Chris FROOME and Sir Bradley WIGGINS in the elite club of British riders to have won the event.
"Some people are asking, 'Where does he come from? He's out of nowhere', but if you look at his results ... he's improved the whole way through," HOY said.
"I met Geraint the first time 18 years ago at one of the kids' sessions. He was about 14 at the time and you could see he was physically handy and head and shoulders ahead of the rest, even by then. I thought, 'Wow, he's already good at 13, 14, how fast is he going to be by the time he's 18, 19?'."
Like HOY, after whom the velodrome in use at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships was named, THOMAS is also a successful track cyclist, having won three world titles and gold medals in team pursuit at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games.
"He focused on the track until 2012 and at the same time he has been a road pro, but I think he was always looking to finish in the top 10 of the Tour (de France)," HOY said.
"When you are in the team with Bradley WIGGINS and Chris FROOME it's tough, because you never get the chance to really shine. He was still playing that supporting role, but his strength shows that if you have the legs and the ability, he keeps riding and finishing at the top at the end of each stage."
Track cycling at Glasgow 2018 takes place at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Emirates Arena, from 2-7 August. The cycling road race takes place on Sunday 5 August (women) and Sunday 12 August (men), with the time trials on Wednesday 8 August.
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