His GC bid appeared to be in serious doubt for several minutes Sunday, but Geraint Thomas survived a grueling battle with Alberto Contador in the final stage of Paris-Nice to seal the overall victory.
Contador (Tinkoff) kept the pressure high all day long, attacking on the penultimate climb of the 134-kilometer stage 7 and then again on the final categorized ascent, the Col d’Èze — but Sky’s Geraint Thomas stayed calm under fire. Although the 29-year-old Welshman spent some nervous moments off the back of the main group of GC hopefuls and well behind an attacking Contador with only teammate Sergio Henao for company, he ultimately rejoined the group and then regained enough ground on Contador to maintain control of the yellow jersey.
Thomas held on to a narrow GC lead of four seconds over Contador when all was said and done.
Tim Wellens of Lotto – Soudal won stage 7, having jumped clear of the peloton at the start of the stage as a member of the early breakaway. Contador crossed the line on the same time as Wellens for second on the day with BMC’s Richie Porte just behind to take third in both the stage and the general classification.
“It’s incredible, it’s hard to believe to be honest,” said Thomas. “It’s Contador man, he’s one of the of best stage racers ever. Richie, he won nearly every race he did last year. To beat those two, I can’t really believe it to be honest.
“I obviously came here trying to win and do the best I could, but to actually do it, it’s the biggest win for sure of my career. I’m over the moon.”
Contador was noticeably disappointed at the podium presentation, but took some positives out of his impressive ride in the final stage.
“When we lost [stage 4] due to the snow, I lost a big chance to try to take time to win this race, so we had to look at new ways to try to win the overall,” he said. “We knew if we waited until the final climb, it would be too late. We made a nice try.
“It’s a shame I didn’t win, but I am happy with how I am performing. This gives me confidence for the coming races.”