Geraint Thomas: Tour de France hero’s welcome home to Cardiff

UK News

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Media captionLive coverage of Geraint Thomas: The Homecoming

Thousands of people are lining the streets of Cardiff as Wales officially welcomes home Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas.

The 32-year-old has been congratulated by First Minister Carwyn Jones at the Senedd in front of more than 3,000 people in Cardiff Bay.

Thomas became just the third Briton and first Welshman to win the gruelling 21-stage race which culminated in Paris.

He has been “blown away” by support as 8,000 fans line Cardiff’s streets.

“I’m used to racing in front of thousands of people but to walk out to this, this is bonkers,” Thomas said.

“Thanks for coming, I was a bit worried it was just going to be the wife and the dog,” he joked.

Image caption Geraint Thomas is thanked “on behalf of Wales” by First Minister and Carwyn Jones

Asked what was next for him, he replied: “A few more beers!

“I thought the race would be harder, I felt pretty good. The race was a dream and couldn’t have gone better.”

Mr Jones, who joined Thomas on the steps of the Senedd, described the triumph as “a stand-out moment in our sporting history”.

“In politics you spend a lot of time selling Wales to the world and Geraint has done more in 21 days than I could’ve done in 21 years,” said the first minister.

“From the whole of the country, thanks for what you’ve done. “

Thomas then cycled through the packed streets of Cardiff, accompanied by a peloton of young riders, before he took a stage outside the castle to speak to the crowd.

But the Team Sky star, from the Birchgrove area of the capital, did have a word of advice for the young riders watching around the world.

“Just follow your dreams,” he told the crowd.

“Do what you love to do. Anything is possible with hard work. You’re always going to have hard moments but if you really want to do something, go for it.”

Thomas follows in the footsteps of two other former Whitchurch High School pupils in being recognised in the city.

In 2012, then Welsh rugby captain Sam Warburton enjoyed a Grand Slam celebration at the Senedd, while Gareth Bale and Wales’ football heroes brought Cardiff to a standstill with a Euro 2016 homecoming after reaching the semi-finals.

Image caption More than 3,000 people were outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay to welcome home Geraint Thomas

Thomas’s achievement also saw him immortalised in the same way as the great Welsh rugby players in the 1970s, with performer Max Boyce penning a poem about him.

Cardiff council leader Huw Thomas said everyone in the city was “extremely proud” of the “landmark victory” while Welsh Cycling’s Anne Adams-King said cyclists from across Wales were looking forward to sharing “this once in a lifetime moment”.

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Media captionThe mural took five hours to complete

To celebrate his historic win, a 10ft-high graffiti mural depicting Thomas in his yellow jersey has been painted on a wall Maindy leisure centre overlooking the track used by the Maindy Flyers Cycling Club, where his love of the sport began, aged 10.

High Street will be closed from 10:00 until 22:00 for the event while many other roads will be partly closed from 15:00 until 20:00.

Stretches of St Mary Street, Wharton Street, Castle Street, Duke Street, North Road and Cowbridge Road East, will be affected.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Geraint Thomas crosses the line knowing he has done enough to win the Tour de France

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45114912

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