Geraint Thomas has capped the most memorable year of his career by being honoured with a new award at Welsh Cycling’s annual celebration.
The Tour de France winner was named the first recipient of the organisation’s Outstanding Achievement category at the 2018 Litelok Welsh Cycling Awards on Saturday night.
Thomas, who is currently in the USA and was unable to attend the ceremony at Cardiff’s Mercure Hotel, became the first Welshman to win the tour this summer, sparking a wave of national pride and celebration.
The Team Sky rider won two mountain stages at the tour in July before storming to victory in succession to teammate Chris Froome.
He was then given a hero’s homecoming event in Cardiff, before spending much of the rest of the summer rubbing shoulders – at their request – with the likes of Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Arsene Wenger.
There has only been one slight blot on the landscape. Earlier this month, Thomas’s Tour de France trophy was stolen from The Cycle Show in Birmingham.
But that aside, it was has been a torrent of good news and worldwide publicity for the rider who began it all with Maindy Flyers, after arguably the greatest single accomplishment in Welsh sporting history. So, it was hardly surprising his own national governing body felt moved to mark the year with an inaugural award.
— Geraint Thomas (@GeraintThomas86) October 15, 2018
The 32-year-old – who signed a new contract with Team Sky in September – accepted the award in a pre-recorded link and said: “It’s a massive honour to be presented with the Litelok Outstanding Achievement Award.
“I just want to say a quick congratulations to everyone else who has won an award and been nominated tonight.”
Elinor Barker also went head-to-head with talented riders Jon Mould and Stevie Williams to win the Elite Performer of the Year Award for her consistent performances and gold medal win at the Commonwealth Games earlier in the year.
Barker – whose sister Megan won a silver medal at the weekend at the Tissot UCI Track World Cup series – was unable to attend as she is preparing for round two of the World Cup series in Canada next week.
Her father Graham received the award on her behalf and she said: “I’m really happy and honoured to accept the award and glad my dad could make it to pick the award up!”
The Lifetime Contribution to Cycling in Wales Award was given to John Richards of Blaenau Gwent CC, a man acknowledged as the visionary for the Junior Tour of Wales, a Welsh event that has seen many riders go on to the professional arena.
Richard Hopkins, current Junior Tour of Wales organiser, invited every Junior Tour of Wales rider in the room onto the stage to celebrate John’s win – and over 17 riders including, Jon Mould and Stevie Williams, took to the stage.
The Awards Winners of the evening were:
Sweetspot Volunteer of the Year 2018
Jo Phillips, Maindy Flyers
Ian Fennel, Welsh Cycling Downhill Commissaire
Steve Gabriel, Cardiff Social Cycling
Frog Bikes Coach of the Year 2018
Michael Tarling, West Wales Cycle Racing Team
Zoe Briffett, Whitchurch Cycling Club
Hayden Jones, Wrexham Road Club
Capitol Skoda Newport Club Cyclist of the Year 2018
Richard Smith, Action Bikes
Kristian Bond, Ystwyth Cycling Club
Sacha Baber, Bike Doctor
HSBC Go Ride Club of the Year 2018
Whitchurch Cycling Club
Hafren Cycling Club
West Wales Cycle Racing Team
Primal Club of the Year 2018
Whitchurch Cycling Club
Caerphilly Cycling Club
Ystwyth Cycling Club
Colin Thornton Memorial Junior Performance of the Year 2018
Joe Beckingsale, Abergavenny Road Club
Imogen Morris, Gower Riders
Zoe Backstedt, Maindy Flyers
SD Sealants Elite Performance of the Year 2018
Elinor Barker, Wiggle High 5
Stevie Williams, SEG Racing
Jon Mould, JLT Condor
Kilsby Williams Lifetime Contribution to Cycling in Wales Award 2018
John Richards, CC Blaenau Gwent
Jason Carpenter, Ramp World
Andrew Barnwell, Clwb Beicio Mynydd Dyffryn Conwy
Litelok Outstanding Achievement Awards 2018
Geraint Thomas MBE Team Sky
As well as the presentation to outstanding winners on the night, Welsh Cycling held an auction to celebrate Geraint Thomas’s success.
A Geraint Thomas-signed and framed yellow jersey was auctioned with a certificate of authentication along with a Litelok and a Frog Bike signed by Geraint.
Just under £3000 was raised for a new Welsh Cycling Trust that is being developed to support riders who may be restricted due to financial or social circumstances.