Geraint Thomas set for Tour de France title after time trial; Chris Froome on podium

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In past Tours de France, Geraint Thomas finished with a broken pelvis, abandoned with a broken collarbone and even slammed his head into a telephone pole and fell into a ditch.

On Sunday, he will ride onto the Champs-Élysées wearing the yellow jersey as the first Welshman to win cycling’s greatest race. And Team Sky mate Chris Froome should join him on the podium.

“I don’t know what to say. It’s just overwhelming,” Thomas said. “I didn’t think about it all race, and now, suddenly, I won the Tour, man. Wow.”

Thomas, a two-time Olympic track cycling champion, capped a standout three weeks by placing third in the 19-mile individual time trial on Saturday, the penultimate day of the three-week Grand Tour.

Tom Dumoulin, second in the overall standings, won the stage by one second over Froome and 14 seconds over Thomas. But Thomas went into the day with a two-minute lead on Dumoulin.

“Amazing last day, I was so nervous,” said Dumoulin, whose world champion skinsuit was lost before the stage. Another one was quickly made and arrived before the Dutchman started.

Froome, a four-time Tour winner, moved from fourth place back to third in the overall standings, passing former junior world champion ski jumper Primoz Roglic of Slovenia. Roglic was eighth in the time trial, 72 seconds behind Dumoulin.

“After a difficult day yesterday I did not think it was possible,” Froome said. “I’m very, very happy. Being on the podium with Geraint is a dream.”

TOUR DE FRANCE: StandingsTV Schedule | Riders to Watch

Sunday’s 21st stage is a traditionally ceremonial ride into Paris for the top riders. The top three in the overall standings should go unchanged. NBCSN coverage starts at 9:30 a.m. ET, with NBC Sports Gold streaming at 10.

Thomas, 32, earned two Olympic track cycling team pursuit gold medals and three world championships on the track between 2007 and 2012. He came into his own as a road cyclist after the London Games, becoming one of Froome’s right-hand men in the mountains at the Tour de France.

Thomas continued to improve this season, winning the weeklong Critérium du Dauphiné, one of the biggest lead-up events for the Tour de France.

Though Froome won the Giro d’Italia in May, it was Thomas who was clearly stronger in the Alps and the Pyrenees the last two weeks, winning a pair of stages.

Thomas is riding his ninth Tour. In 2013, he broke his pelvis in Stage 1 and somehow raced the next three weeks and finished 140th with teammate Froome winning his first title.

In 2015, Thomas’ head collided with a telephone pole in Stage 16. He fell into a ditch but was unhurt. Then last year, Thomas abandoned after breaking his collarbone in Stage 9.

“He is a true fighter,” said Sky principal Dave Brailsford, the man who masterminded Britain’s successes at the Olympics and Tour de France wins for Bradley Wiggins and Froome.

“When he fractured his hip five years ago, he could not even stand up his bike in the team time trial that followed. He still carried on and finished the race. It speaks volumes about his personality. Since his junior years, he has always wanted to win.”

At the finish Saturday, Thomas let out a loud scream and held his arms out wide in celebration. He embraced his wife, Sara Elen, as soon as he got off his bike.

“The last time I cried was when I got married,” Thomas said as he teared up.

“I believed I could beat the guys here, but to do it on the biggest stage of all, over three weeks, it’s insane,” he said. “Last time I cried was when I got married. Don’t know what’s happened to me.”

Now he’s at the peak of his career but out of contract with Sky at the end of the season. Thomas has yet to decide on his future with the British outfit. Brailsford is confident he will remain a Sky rider.

“He is loyal, I never had any doubts about it. When the team needed him, he was always there,” Brailsford said. “After all these years spent giving to others, he finally got rewarded.”

American rider Lawson Craddock, who broke his shoulder in the opening stage and sits last overall, also broke down into tears upon reaching the finish Saturday.

“It’s been an incredibly testing Tour de France for me,” Craddock said. “I wasn’t sure I could make it this far, and I just enjoyed crossing the finish line today. It was the final test to make it to Paris.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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WATCH LIVE: Nathan Chen in U.S. Figure Skating Championships free skate

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Nathan Chen tries to become the first man to win four straight U.S. figure skating titles since 1988, live on NBC Sports on Sunday.

NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage of the men’s free skate for subscribers starting at 2:30 p.m. ET in Greensboro, N.C. NBC joins with TV coverage at 3.

LIVE STREAM: Men’s Free Skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Chen, a 20-year-old Yale sophomore, is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics. He can become the seventh man since World War II to win four straight national titles.

Five of the previous six went on to earn Olympic gold, including Dick ButtonScott Hamilton and, most recently, Brian Boitano in 1988.

Chen carries a substantial 13.14-point lead from Saturday’s short program, where he landed two quadruple jumps on one week of full training following a flu bout.

The anticipated drama Sunday comes in the battle for silver and bronze medals and the last two world championships team spots.

Jason BrownAndrew TorgashevVincent Zhou and Tomoki Hiwatashi are separated by 8.78 points. Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, and Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, are the only men in the field other than Chen with world team experience.

Key Skate Times
5:01 p.m. (ET) — Vincent Zhou
5:18 — Tomoki Hiwatashi
5:26 — Andrew Torgashev
5:35 — Nathan Chen
5:43 — Jason Brown

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NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Mikaela Shiffrin, with 66th World Cup win, moves one shy of career dream

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Mikaela Shiffrin has said one of her career dreams is to win in every discipline in one season. She is now one victory shy of realizing it.

Shiffrin earned her 66th World Cup victory — and her second in three days — at a super-G in Bansko, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

She prevailed by .29 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino and .70 over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami. Gut-Behrami, the last skier other than Shiffrin to win a World Cup overall title back in 2016, earned her first podium in exactly one year.

Full results are here.

“Perfect weekend for me,” said Shiffrin, who moved one shy of recently retired Austrian Marcel Hirscher for third place on the World Cup career wins list. “The whole team is excited about the whole weekend, but especially today.”

She is en route to a fourth straight World Cup overall title. And she is a combined victory away from wins in all five disciplines in one season. Only Marc GirardelliPetra KronbergerJanica Kostelic and Tina Maze have done it.

“The thing that I’m most proud of right now is that I know how to win in slalom, [giant slalom], super-G and downhill, which I never expected that would really happen,” she said.

Shiffrin struggled with confidence during a winless stretch in early January, trying not to compare herself to last season, when she won a record 17 times. She still leads the men’s and women’s tours with six victories this season, a little more than halfway through.

“Every race is such a big fight, and I haven’t been the one on top of this fight every time,” she said. “Certainly I’ve been like sometimes the expectations that I have or that other people might have, I’m not quite living up to that. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like I’m failing sometimes, even though this is still just an incredible season.”

There are two combined races left this season for Shiffrin to achieve the dream — Feb. 23 in Switzerland and March 1 in Italy. While combined — mixing a speed run and a technical run — might seem perfect for Shiffrin, she has one victory in four starts in the discipline between the World Cup and Olympics.

And Shiffrin is careful about her race schedule. She is undecided on entering a downhill and super-G next weekend at the 2014 Olympic venue in Russia.

“After this weekend my brain is a little bit dead,” she joked.

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