So Thomas' success, Team Sky's sixth win in the past eight years in the event, has reinforced the belief that they will again be the ones to beat in the biggest of road cycling's three Grand Tours.
"It's incredible, it hasn't sunk in yet", Thomas said of the victory.
The 32-year-old Thomas, victor of Paris-Nice in 2016, is coming into form at just the right time with the Tour de France a month away.
"Throughout the race I was never thinking about the end result, it was always about the next day or the next climb".
"It's incredible. I didn't let myself think so far ahead". Now I realise I've won a massive race. I had to chase back on.
"I am really happy here", said Thomas.
"It's been a learning process starting in a new team so getting this win for UAE is great", he said. "I managed to get a few more bonus seconds which is good".
Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) had looked set for a solo victory, as the last remaining escapee from the day's break - spending 105km of the 136km stage at the front of the race - but Yates swept past him to grab the seventh pro win of his career.
Thomas took overall honours by 1:00 from Yates with Bardet 1:47 back in this tune-up for the Tour de France, which gets under way on July 7.
France's Romain Bardet finished third on the stage and in the general classification, with Ireland's Dan Martin 48 seconds behind in fourth. Pierre Rolland (FRA) Team EF Education First - +41 Drapac p/b Cannondale Overall leaders 1.
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