Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas has claimed the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. The Welshman edged out F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, and Tottenham and England football captain Harry Kane in a public vote on Sunday evening.
Thomas, who only found out last week that Sky would be ending their sponsorship of Team Sky at the end of the 2019 season, was handed the award by tennis legend Billie Jean King. Thomas won Welsh Sports Personality of the Year in a similar event earlier in December.
"It is insane that I am stood here!" Thomas said as he picked up the award.
"I feel really to have come into cycling at the age I am. I was just going down the local leisure centre going for a swim, then I end up riding a bike. I'd like to thank my wife, she deserves this just as much. I'm really lucky to have her and my family.
"As a bike rider, I was always focused on myself, but hearing stories like Tyson and Billy, then seeing kids on their bikes back home, you take great pride in winning this. It's been an amazing year for British sport and long may it continue."
That was a sentiment backed up by British Cycling, whose Chief Executive Officer, Julie Harrington, was effusive about Thomas' achievements.
"In terms of top-level success in 2018, you could argue that this has been one of our most successful years yet, what with Simon Yates and Chris Froome along with Geraint taking victories at Grand Tours, Rachel Atherton winning another world championship title, Kyle Evans and Kye Whyte taking a GB one-two in the BMX at the European Championships and even as recently as this weekend where we saw our able-bodied and para-cycling track cyclists win a total of seven medals at the UCI World Cup in London," Harrington said in a British Cycling press release on the back of the news of Thomas' BBC Sports Personality of the Year award win.
"What Geraint has achieved this year completely encapsulates what we are about – using success to inspire people to get out on their bikes. I’d like to offer my congratulations to Geraint on a brilliant year and thank him for his part in encouraging more people to cycle," said Harrington.
"In what has been a fantastic year for the Great Britain Cycling Team, in which we have seen over 150 podium finishes at major events across the Olympic and Paralympic disciplines, not to mention three British winners in each of the three Grand Tours, it’s a pleasure to see Geraint crowned as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year," British Cycling's Performance Director, Stephen Park, added.
"Everyone involved with the Great Britain Cycling Team felt a sense of pride watching Geraint ride his way to Tour de France victory. He is a true example of how our pathway structure succeeds in developing talented riders into cycling greats. With his results on the road this year and his history of successes of the track, Geraint is an inspiration to many and is deserving of the award.
"On behalf of everyone at British Cycling, I’d like to congratulate Geraint on a successful year and I am sure he will enjoy the celebrations tonight."