SPOTY 2018 Betting: Tour winner Thomas is now Kane's closest rival

Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome
Team player . . . Geraint Thomas is cheered by Chris Froome as they cross the line in Paris

Geraint Thomas rode from nowhere to win cycling's biggest prize and Ralph Ellis says that makes him a contender for the BBC's big award too...

"In short he ticks all the boxes to be a serious contender for this year’s Sports Personality of the Year and it’s no surprise that he is now the 3.9 second favourite to lift the coveted prize."

You get the feeling that if Geraint Thomas hadn't existed, Team Sky and the sport of cycling as a whole needed to invent him.

Just when every great Tour de France winner had become tainted by scepticism, when the achievements of Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome were tainted by the Russian Fancy Bears hackers and talk of cunning use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions, along came Thomas to restore our faith.

At 32, this is a winner of cycling's greatest challenge who is clean as clean. His ascent to the pinnacle of the sport has come slowly rather than out of nowhere. His character is humble. His talent is for hard work.

In short he ticks all the boxes to be a serious contender for this year's Sports Personality of the Year and it's no surprise that he is now the 3.9 second favourite to lift the coveted prize.

Harry Kane remains favourite on the back of his Golden Boot from the World Cup in Russia - although he now trades at 2.1211/10 from a low of 1.444/9 - and providing the England captain carries on scoring goals for Spurs he must remain the man to beat.

An uplifting story

But Thomas, backed by somebody at odds as long as 200.0199/1 before the Tour began, is unquestionably a serious contender with the sort of profile to attract audience votes on a dark night in December.

His story is uplifting, from when he first discovered the joy of riding a bike with his local club Maindy Flyers, through his progress as a double Olympic gold medallist, and on to this greatest of achievements.

He hasn't had at any stage of his career the sudden improvement in performance to make you ask questions about where that came from. A junior world champion, he's gone on to do well at every level.

This is a man, don't forget, who rode for 20 days in the 2013 Tour to help Chris Froome across the line despite having fractured a pelvis in a first day crash. He didn't take anything stronger than Ibuprofen to manage the pain.

There is of course the counter argument that after Wiggins was the first Briton to win the Tour in more than 100 years of it's history, nobody cares about who does it next. It's the who remembers the second man to climb Everest?' conundrum.

His team mates love him

Froome has won the epic trek around France four times, picked up the other Grand Tour titles in Italy and Spain for good measure, and never made it on to the SPOTY podium let alone collected the top prize.

Maybe, perversely, his Kenyan routes have counted against him among the voting public but Thomas is clearly a different animal, a man who went to the same comprehensive school as Gareth Bale and Sam Warburton.

If you wanted a guide to his popularity among his fellow cyclists, you only had to see the way Froome was cheering over the line at the end of yesterday's final stage into Paris. As Sir Dave Brailsford himself pointed out, from the moment Froome realised he couldn't achieve a fifth victory himself he did everything to make sure that Thomas was the man to stand on the top step of the podium in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Thomas, you suspect, will definitely have Froome's vote for SPOTY. He could well garner a good few more to go with it.

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