Seemingly relaxed, Thomas lingered after the podium ceremony, signing autographs, posing for selfies and chatting in the sunshine with fans who had come to the race near Ponteland, just outside Newcastle.
Winning the 2010 road race title, he has worn a British national champion’s stripes before, but though he has come close, he has never never won the time trial despite it being a discipline he excels in.
“It’s really nice to win,” he told Cycling Weekly. “I’ve got two medals, a bronze and a silver. I was bronze in 2010 when Froomey beat me by a couple of seconds, and two days before he got me drunk, so I’ll always remember that. I wasn't drinking before this one!"
The Welshman's other medal came in 2014, but this year he dominated the race from start to finish. While eventual second placed Harry Tanfield (Canyon-Eisberg) headed out immediately before him, setting the new standard for all the timing splits, Thomas smashed each of them in turn.
Behind him neither James Gullen (JLT-Condor) or five-time champion Alex Dowsett (Katusha-Alpecin) were able to get on terms at any time during the 39.9km race, with Dowsett finishing third.
“It’s a strong field, in the UK it is always strong time trialling anyway, and Harry Tanfield has really stepped up in the last couple of seasons, I’ve been watching him from a afar he’s a super talent," Thomas added.
"Obviously Dowsett, this is his bread and butter, so to put those two away is good for the confidence.
“I didn’t quite know how I was going to feel here because I trained pretty hard after the Dauphiné because it was still a month out from the Tour. I flew in late last night and this morning I was riding round thinking 'did I do a bit too much the last few days?'”
With narrow roads and the field covering three laps of an 11.1km loop, there had been pre-race suggestions of congestion on the course, however, thankfully these never materialised.
“It was a good course,” added Thomas. “The traffic was fine, it was a bit bumpy in places and when you’re suffering a bit at the end you can hit a few holes, but that’s fine.
“It was challenging, they were grippy roads. Sometimes over in France you can hit downhills and you’re not even pedalling, but you’re constantly on the pedals here; it was a good test.”
With the Tour beginning on July 7, France is where Thomas’s attention now turns. He will not contest Sunday’s road race, Team Sky preferring to wrap him in cotton wool, keeping him fresh ahead of the Grand Départ in the Vendée next weekend, where he will share leadership duties with Chris Froome.
With victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné already behind him, he starts with confidence.
“I’ve got that big win and whatever happens this season is going to be a successful one,” he said, before heading off to meet the fans.
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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.
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