Pausing at times along the way for a swig of champagne, Geraint Thomas rode triumphantly into Paris on Sunday evening, completing the final stage of the Tour de France and becoming the first Welshman to win the famed race.

“It’s another level to win,” Thomas said Sunday. “It’s insane.”

He had repeatedly used the word “overwhelming” as he struggled with the enormity of what he was about to accomplish on Saturday, when the victory was a formality. “I can’t speak. It’s just incredible,” Thomas told NBC on Saturday. After years of being a supportive teammate to other Team Sky riders, like four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome, Thomas’s turn to win his first Tour de France arrived at the age of 32.

“I believed I could beat the guys here, but still on the biggest stage, over three weeks, it’s insane. The last time I cried was when I got married. I don’t know what’s happened to me,” Thomas said Saturday, struggling for composure before finally breaking down in tears.

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

Thomas beat Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands by 1:51. Thomas’s Team Sky teammate, Froome, was third, 2:24 behind Thomas, who joins Froome (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017) and Bradley Wiggins (2012) as the only British men to win the race. Six of the last seven Tours have been won by British riders (thanks to Froome’s dominance).

Thomas has been known for grit and determination that surpasses what is he norm for cyclists. He rode in the 2013 Tour with a broken pelvis, saying it was “the worst pain I’ve ever experienced on a bike.” In 2005, he suffered a ruptured spleen when he was struck by a piece of metal during a ride in Australia.

He has never finished better than 15th in a grand tour, partly because he has usually played a supportive role to his teammates.

“I know people won’t believe it, but it was only on Friday night that I started to think about it,” he said Saturday (via the Guardian).

“That last mountain stage was just a fight and I knew I had to just follow Tom like poo on a shoe. On Saturday I won’t celebrate too much because if you switch off the Champs Élysées is hard. I’m going to have a burger and certainly a beer or two, but I will save the real celebrations for Paris on Sunday night.”

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