Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year award

Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas has won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, beating Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton into second place, with England captain Harry Kane third.

The Spurs striker had been the pre-event favourite but Thomas was a close second with the bookmakers and the 32-year-old Welshman came out on top when it mattered.

Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year award

He becomes the fifth cyclist to win the award – the fourth in the last decade – and the fifth athlete from Wales.

The victory was the perfect end to a day that started pretty well, too, when he was given a replacement Tour trophy on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch – the original was stolen three months ago.

In a break with BBC tradition, the nominees for the main SPOTY award were not revealed until the start of the programme, which was broadcast live from Birmingham’s World Resorts Arena on BBC One.

Tyson Fury was the big omission on the six-strong list as he was the fourth favourite after his dramatic draw with Deontay Wilder earlier this month.

That performance came after the 12-strong judging panel had met to decide the nominees but it did meet again to debate whether he should be added. They opted to leave him off the ballot paper but did put the fight in Los Angeles on the shortlist for the Greatest Sporting Moment of the Year award, a new competition decided by public vote.

The other three names to make the SPOTY shortlist were England bowler James Anderson, sprinter Dina Asher-Smith and two-time Olympic skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold.

But, in another change to the format, the BBC will not be revealing the total votes for each candidate.

And while Fury did not win either the main prize or the greatest moment, he did deliver the best speech of the night, telling presenter Gary Lineker that he should be “the WBC champion and everyone knows it!”

Fury, who returned to the ring this year after what he described as “two terrible years” struggling with mental-health issues and a doping controversy, said his performance against Wilder sent a powerful message to anybody else who is fighting depression.

Asked if he would be fighting Anthony Joshua next year, he said he did not want to talk about boxing anymore this year and wished everyone a “great Christmas and a merry New Year”.

The first prize dished out on the night went to Billy Monger, whose life changed forever when he had to have his legs amputated after an awful crash at Donington Park in 2017.

The 19-year-old, who returned to the motorsport this year and finished a remarkable third in his first British F3 race, received the Helen Rollason Award from his hero Hamilton.

Unfortunately, his speech was cut short by Clare Balding, although the BBC repaired the mistake later in the show by letting the inspirational Monger complete his ‘thank yous’.

American tennis great Billie Jean King was given the lifetime achievement by her friend, fellow tennis player and BBC presenter Sue Barker.

The 75-year-old, who won 39 grand slam titles, reminded the crowd of 10,000 at the Birmingham venue that she won her final professional title in the city in 1983.

Perhaps the least surprising winner was Gareth Southgate taking the Coach of the Year accolade following England’s surprising run to the World Cup’s last four.

The 48-year-old received his trophy from David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and Ian Broudie, who had teamed up earlier to serenade him with a rendition of “Three Lions”, a song Southgate used to dislike because it reminded him of a his penalty miss at Euro 96.

Those days are behind him now and Skinner thanked the England boss “for all the royalties”.

Italian golfer Francesco Molinari was the worthy winner of the overseas sports personality prize, which has been rebranded as World Sport Star of the Year and was decided by a global, online vote.

The Italian received his award from Tommy Fleetwood, with whom he formed a memorable partnership as Europe thrashed the United States at the Ryder Cup in Paris.

Molinari became the first European to win five out of five points in the team contest but also enjoyed remarkable solo success this season, winning twice on the US tour before becoming the first Italian to win a major with victory at the Open.

Team of the Year went to the England netball side for their last-second triumph over Australia at the Commonwealth Games in April. Their buzzer-beating victory also won the greatest moment prize. - Press Association

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