Venue: Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London Dates: 21 July – 5 August
Coverage: Live commentary of every England game online and on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, reports on England and Ireland matches on the BBC Sport website
England kept their World Cup hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over Ireland at Lee Valley Park in London.
Ireland had already reached the quarter-finals as group winners with victories in their first two games.
India’s 1-1 draw with USA earlier on Sunday left England needing a draw to qualify for the crossover phase.
A final-quarter goal from Giselle Ansley secured victory, sealed second place in Pool B and set up a match against South Korea on Tuesday.
It was England’s only conversion from 15 penalty corners.
The winners will face world number one ranked the Netherlands – who have scored 26 goals in their three matches – in the quarter-finals.
Ireland await the winners of the crossover match between India and Italy.
After two below-par performances in draws against India and USA, England dominated Ireland, who could not register a shot in the opening half.
Ireland goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran saved well from Sarah Haycroft and Susannah Townsend, but England’s pressure paid off seven minutes from time when Ansley’s shot deflected in off the stick of Hannah Matthews.
Goalkeeper Maddie Hinch said reaching the play-off “means everything” to the team.
“This whole tournament has thrown up a huge amount of surprises – it could have gone either way today,” she said.
2016 Olympic gold medallist Helen Richardson-Walsh on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
England were good value for their win. They only won this game 1-0 but they had a lot of corners and seemed to dominate possession.
They were much better than the first two games and showed great patience, but the worrying thing is that they are not scoring goals. It doesn’t matter how well you play – that is a problem.
I don’t think many people would have expected Ireland to top the pool. They played really well for those first two victories but they were pushed back tonight.
Geraint Thomas became Britain’s third winner of the Tour de France when he crossed the finish line in Paris.
The Team Sky rider, 32, follows Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and four-time Tour champion Chris Froome as Britain celebrates a sixth win in seven years.
Alexander Kristoff won the final sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees as Thomas crossed the line arm-in-arm with Froome after three weeks of racing.
He beat Dutchman Tom Dumoulin by one minute 51 seconds, with Froome third.
The Welshman, who rode in support of Froome in each of his four wins, had built up that lead over the previous 20 stages and Tour convention dictates that the yellow jersey is not challenged on the final stage.
“When I rode on the Champs-Elysees for the first time in 2007, that was insane – just to finish the race and just to be a part of it,” Thomas told ITV.
“To now be riding round winning it is just incredible. It’s just a whirlwind. I seem to be floating around on cloud nine.
“Maybe when I’m 70, sat in a corner of a pub telling some 18-year-old what I used to be, it will sink in. It’s incredible, the stuff of dreams.”
Froome was heavy favourite to become the fifth rider to win a record-equalling fifth Tour de France title. He came into the race as defending champion and holder of all three Grand Tour titles, having won the Vuelta a Espana last September and the Giro d’Italia in May.
However, he was only cleared to race the week before the Tour started, after his anti-doping case was dropped by cycling’s world governing body, the UCI.
The 33-year-old was under investigation after more than the permitted level of legal asthma drug salbutamol was found in his urine during his Vuelta victory.
But his hopes of matching Eddy Merckx’s record of four consecutive Grand Tour victories were ended in the Pyrenees mountains in the final week as Thomas proved the strongest rider.
A procession into Paris
The final 116km stage began in Houilles, to the north-west of Paris, and the riders took a leisurely pace into the capital before embarking on eight laps of the city centre.
Team Sky led the peloton into Paris, having allowed France’s Sylvain Chavanel to ride clear for one lap in his final Tour in recognition of his achievement of completing a record 18th race.
Six riders built an advantage of about 45 seconds but they were eventually reeled in on the final lap, with 6km remaining.
World champion Peter Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates did the bulk of the chasing, hoping to help the winner of the green points classification jersey to a first win in Paris, but Norwegian Kristoff outsprinted Frenchman Arnaud Demare and Germany’s John Degenkolb.
Thomas rode over the line a few seconds later, alongside Froome, the man he dethrones as champion.
Thomas’ Tour pedigree
Thomas’ victory comes in his ninth Tour, one fewer than the record for most appearances before winning, held by 1980 winner Joop Zoetemelk of the Netherlands.
Thomas first rode in the Tour in 2007, when he finished 140th of the 141 finishers.
Like many British riders, he raced on both the track and the road in the early part of his career, winning two Olympic and three world team pursuit titles on the track between 2007 and 2012.
His sacrifice in helping Froome win four Tours has meant Thomas’ best finish before this year was 15th.
He has also been dogged by bad luck. He fractured his pelvis on stage one in 2013 but rode the remaining 20 stages to help Froome win; in 2015 he crashed head first into a telegraph pole; and in 2017 broke a collarbone on stage nine.
This year, he has ridden a near faultless race to cement his place among Britain’s greatest cyclists.
Cavendish leads praise for ‘G’
Mark Cavendish, a former Team Sky and Great Britain team-mate of Thomas, said he was “so, so proud” of his achievement.
Asked if he ever thought Thomas could win a Grand Tour, Cavendish, who has won 30 Tour de France stages, told BBC Sport: “Recently, yes. But there is a definite hierarchy in Team Sky so I didn’t know if he’d get the opportunity.
“If they (Team Sky) had said to Geraint ‘right, now you’ve got to work for Froome’ he’d have done it. That’s the kind of guy he is. That’s what is special about him and why he deserves the win.
“He’s the most loyal guy you’ll ever meet. He’s incredible. I love him. I’m so so proud of him.”
Peter Kennaugh, another former Team Sky and GB team-mate, added: “It’s incomprehensible. It’s G and he’s won the Tour de France. I can’t imagine how he feels. I’m just so proud of him.”
Ex-Team Sky team-mate Ben Swift, who shared a house with Thomas when they lived in Manchester, said: “It’s amazing to see. We’ve grown up together, been at the British Academy together, lived together, so to see him do this is incredible.”
Three-time world team pursuit world champion Dani Rowe said: “I did see him as a Tour winner. He’s one of the most hard-working riders I’ve ever come across, so I think he deserves this more than anyone.”
Former British cyclist Chris Boardman, who won three Tour stages and wore the yellow jersey, said: “He’s the most popular winner for years. No disrespect to those who have gone before him but he’s always laid it down for someone else and sacrificed himself for someone else.”
The stages that defined Thomas’ victory
Thomas went in to this year’s race saying he was hoping to challenge his team leader Froome.
He told BBC Sport: “The team have said that with the way I’ve been riding they’re confident to give me that role of a back-up guy and to race at least until the first rest day (after stage nine).”
He was second after stage nine and took hold of the race leader’s yellow jersey on stage 11.
Stage 3: Team Sky finish second in the team trial to propel Thomas up the standings to third overall, three seconds adrift of race leader Greg van Avermaet.
Stage 6: A tactically aware Thomas picks up two bonus seconds near the finish to move himself up to second overall.
Stage 11: Thomas attacks with 6km remaining on the final ascent to the summit finish at La Rosiere in the Alps to finish 20 seconds ahead of Dumoulin and Froome and take the race leader’s yellow jersey.
Stage 12: Another late surge sees Thomas become the first British rider to win on the fabled Alpe d’Huez as he again leaves Dumoulin and Froome in his wake to cement his position as a real threat in the race. “There wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to win,” Thomas said. “I just kept following Dumoulin and Froome. Can we just go to Paris now?”
Stage 17: Into the Pyrenees and an attack in the closing few hundred metres helps Thomas finish third to put another nine seconds into Dumoulin as Froome falters on the final climb, finishing 48 seconds behind his team-mate.
Stage 19: The final stage in the mountains and Thomas follows the attacks of all his rivals before sprinting to second on the stage to pick up more bonus seconds and move two minutes five seconds clear. He has accrued 33 bonus seconds, 21 more than Dumoulin.
Stage 20: Dumoulin wins the time trial, beating Froome by one second, but Thomas finishes third on the stage to maintain a lead of 1min 51secs.
How did the other Britons fare?
Mark Cavendish set out looking to make further inroads in Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 Tour stage wins, but the Dimension Data rider was unable to add to his tally of 30. He missed out on the early sprint stages and was eliminated when he missed the time cut on the mountainous 11th stage.
Mitchelton-Scott rider Adam Yates won the young rider classification in 2016 and was tipped to go well this year, but dehydration in the Alps – he was dropped on the way to La Rosiere on stage 11 and again on the next stage to Alpe d’Huez. To end a miserable Tour, he crashed while leading on stage 16 as Julian Alaphilippe won.
The third British rider in Team Sky’s squad, Luke Rowe, finished 130th – almost four hours behind the winner – but his sacrifices to help compatriot Thomas win will live long in both their memories.
Who won green, polka dot and white jerseys?
Three-time world champion Sagan romped away with the green points jersey, which rewards consistently high finishes on each stage. It is a joint record sixth victory in the classification for the Slovak, matching Germany’s Erik Zabel.
Sagan won three stages and finished in the top 10 on nine others to amass 477 points, more than double Kristoff in second.
The polka dot ‘king of the mountains’ jersey was claimed by Julian Alaphilippe, who comfortably beat fellow Frenchman Warren Barguil.
Another home rider, Pierre Roger Latour, won the white jersey awarded to the best young rider (under the age of 26).
1. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) 83hrs 17mins 13secs
It was a merited win for the German road race champion, who timed his effort up the inside to perfection as Quick-Step sprinter Viviani ran out of gas.
Alexis Gougeard won the King of the Mountains competition in a race that saw a breakaway group containing Valerio Agnoli and Manuele Boaro (both Bahrain-Merida) stay clear until the final stages.
Briton Mark Cavendish retained a position near the front of the peloton throughout, flanked by his Dimension Data team-mates but as the sprint trains assembled on the Mall he was too far back to influence the outcome.
Ackermann becomes the second rider to win the Classic – billed as the world’s richest one-day race with a total prize pool of 100,000 euros (£89,000) – since it was awarded the top-tier World Tour status in 2016.
There was a time when Geraint Thomas appeared to be blessed with talent but cursed by the rider it made him.
A man described by Sir Dave Brailsford as the rider who could do everything, a racer who seemed destined instead to ride for others, who kept crashing when openings came.
Down on the final descent of the Olympic road race in 2016, down twice at the Tour de France in 2017, down when in wonderful form at the Giro d’Italia the same year. Your chances in elite sport come fast and slip away faster.
Now that curse is gone, blown away over the past three weeks in relentless and spectacular fashion. In its place, a certain giddiness, a happy disbelief, a triumph bigger than any of those disappointments combined.
Thomas watched his old Great Britain team-mate Bradley Wiggins win the 2012 Tour de France. He has helped Chris Froome to the podium in Paris three times, once having ridden for 20 days with a fractured pelvis. He has stood aside so Froome could chase other Grand Tours that Thomas might otherwise have won.
At 32, an age when riders start looking over their shoulder at younger, fresher talents, Thomas’ reward has come.
And when he stood on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday evening, blinking at the hundreds of photographers and thousands of fellow Welshmen who had travelled to witness the coronation, his happiness was shared far beyond.
Some sporting heroes seem to have landed from another world. Thomas inhabits the same one as all of us. His first bike as a kid was a cheap mountain bike called The Wolf. On the handlebars he had a small box that made big noises – police sirens, ambulances, fire engines. He rode it to the park with his little brother and dad to play football and rugby.
When he was given his first pair of cycling shorts, he had no idea you weren’t supposed to wear pants under them.
When he went out for his first long ride, from his home in the Cardiff suburbs to the Storey Arms outdoor centre in Brecon, he got lost on the way back and was so tired on his eventual return that he had to press the doorbell with his forehead.
When his mum realised this cycling thing wasn’t going away, she used to fuel her son the night before rides with barbecue spare ribs and egg-fried rice from the local Chinese takeaway, and with jam sandwiches wrapped in foil for the adventure itself.
As the rides got longer and the successes began to come, winning Olympic gold in Beijing 2008 as part of the GB team pursuit quartet, the boy grew up but stayed the same.
He shared a house with Mark Cavendish and Ed Clancy near the National Cycling Centre in Manchester and was berated by Cavendish for not washing up to sufficiently exacting standards.
He rode the same roads as all the amateurs and weekenders in the north-west – the Cat and Fiddle climb out of Macclesfield, the Brickworks out of Pott Shrigley, Winnats Pass, Holme Moss.
The Tour de France was both real and impossible. When Thomas rode it for the first time, as a chunky 21-year-old in the colours of the struggling Barloworld team, he found the pace of it baffling. Sent back to the team car mid-stage to fetch water bottles for his team-mates, he could only get back to the peloton by lobbing all the bottles away.
On climbs he would be dropped instantly. On flat stages he would be dropped all the same. Sometimes his bike computer would auto-pause, assuming he had stopped because he was ascending the big mountains so slowly. All the time the same thought was rattling round his exhausted mind: how can you come to a race like this and actually try to win it? It’s hard enough to finish a day…
The transformation came slowly but inexorably. From finishing the Tour to becoming Froome’s key lieutenant. Losing the puppy fat, losing some of the muscle that gives track riders their power. Horrendous training reps up Mount Teide in Tenerife, taking in altitude and long drags and brutal climbs. Ditching the spring one-day Classics for summer’s Grand Tours, finishing 15th at the Tour, learning from Wiggins and Froome and everything Team Sky’s coaches and nutritionists could throw at him.
This July he has ridden with the experience of a veteran and the confidence of a man who knows his time at last has come.
There are those who would put it down to luck, to the punctures and crashes sustained by his rivals. Richie Porte out after a fall on the road to Roubaix, Vincenzo Nibali brought down by a spectator on Alpe d’Huez. Tom Dumoulin lost time to a flat tyre and then a penalty for drafting before the Mur de Bretagne. Froome crashed on the very first stage.
Had Dumoulin and Froome stayed safe throughout, they would still not be within 45 seconds of Thomas. On seven different stages in this Tour, Thomas has taken time out of Dumoulin, the man who will finish second. Dumoulin took time from Thomas only on the penultimate stage on Saturday, and even then only 14 seconds.
Has Thomas been lucky? Luck at the Tour comes with cleverness, with putting yourself in the right place in a constantly shifting mass of 100 or more riders racing at 45 miles per hour, of reading the body language and moves of those looking to attack you and ambush you, of eating right and holding the concentration not only on the climbs but on treacherous, slippery descents too.
Luck comes from reconnoitring mountains and throwing yourself into the brutal training sessions that can get you through them. Thomas had ridden the time trial course three times weeks before the Tour began.
Sky have once again been the dominant team at this race. They have won each of the past four Grand Tours, and six of the past seven Tours de France. In riders like Michal Kwiatowski and Egan Bernal, they have domestiques who would be outright leaders at other teams.
Thomas would not have won this race without Sky. Sky would not have won three other Tours without Thomas. You invest and you work and you accept the dividend that comes your way.
There are multiple subplots across the three weeks and 3,300km of a Tour. Some flare brightly before dying away like meteors across the night sky: the early sprint-stage wins of Fernando Gaviria and Dylan Groenewegen, the redemption of John Degenkolb on the cobbles of Roubaix.
Some light up the darkness for longer. Thomas’ successes, first in the breathless summit finish on La Rosiere, then the unforgettable win up the iconic hairpins of Alpe d’Huez, have burned his name into the firmament.
The extraordinary could not have happened to a more down-to-earth man. The Tour has not always been blessed nor enhanced by its victors. There are asterisks where some winners once were and questions over others.
Thomas may never win another Grand Tour. But he will remain the inadvertent anti-Lance: always amiable, usually praising others first, never cocky, consistently self-deprecating.
He will probably struggle for some time to accept that he has finally won his sport’s greatest prize.