Geraint Thomas says winning the 2018 Criterium du Dauphine is the finest result of his career on the road.
The Welshman, 32, is a double Olympic champion on the track and won stage one of the 2017 Tour de France, wearing the leader’s yellow jersey until Chris Froome took it after stage five.
Thomas won the eight-day race by one minute from fellow Briton Adam Yates.
“It’s the biggest win of my career on the road, it’s an amazing feeling,” Thomas told BBC Sport Wales.
“Throughout the race I was never thinking about the end result, it was always about the next day or the next climb.
“I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet, but I’m really happy to have finished the job.”
The race is a good indicator of form heading into the Tour de France, which takes place from 7-29 July.
Sir Bradley Wiggins won the race for a second time in 2012 before going on to become the first British winner of the Tour, while Froome has won it on three occasions, each time going on to claim the yellow jersey in Paris.
So Thomas’ success, Team Sky’s sixth win in the past eight years in the event, has reinforced the belief that they will again be the ones to beat in the biggest of road cycling’s three Grand Tours.
Defending Tour champion Froome, who skipped this year’s Dauphine after winning May’s Giro d’Italia, is set to chase a joint record fifth title in July with Thomas again expected to be one of his key helpers.
Should Froome win in France, he will become just the second rider to win four successive Grand Tours, after claiming last year’s Tour and Vuelta a Espana and this year’s Giro – Belgian legend Eddy Merckx won two Giros, a Tour and a Vuelta across 1972-73.
“With Froome winning the Giro, especially in the fashion he did, and myself coming away with the Dauphine, it’s all on course for hopefully having a great July,” Thomas told BBC Sport Wales.
“From the start of the year I said I wanted to get there [the Tour de France] in the best shape possible and I’m on course for that.
“My role in the team will be as one of the protected guys, Froome is going to be one of the leaders.
“But the first week is so unpredictable and a lot can happen, so it would be good to go in with two good guys and see how the race develops.”
Froome, 33, a four-time Tour winner is involved in an ongoing anti-doping case after giving an adverse result in a test at the 2017 Vuelta a Espana.
Froome has asthma and received permission from cycling chiefs to use legal asthma drug salbutamol at the Vuelta.
However, he was found to have double the allowed level of the drug in his urine. Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, are still investigating with Froome denying any wrongdoing.
“It’s not a great situation for him, the team or just cycling in general,” Thomas said.
“Hopefully the authorities can just get their act together and have a decision, but I’ve got 100 per cent faith in him.”
Thomas’ Team Sky future
Thomas’ Criterium win was also timely. He is in the last year of his current Team Sky contract and wants his long-term future resolved before the Tour de France starts.
“I am really happy here,” said Thomas.
“Without the boys here I would not have won the Dauphine. I get to ride the races I want and I am a leader in most of them.
“So hopefully we can get all that sorted before the Tour de France.”
Thomas is next due to race in the National Road Race championships in Northumberland where he is down to do the time trial (29 June) and the road race (1 July).