Chris Froome on the verge Tour de France victory
Sky rider set to become second Briton in as many years to win cycling’s most prestigious race
Race leader Chris Froome of Britain cycles during the 125 km 20th stage of the Tour de France. Photograph: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters
With only tomorrow’s processional stage into Paris to go, Froome will be the second British winner in as many years following on from Team Sky team-mate Bradley Wiggins, who was the first in history 12 months ago.
The 28-year-old has led the race since winning stage eight to Ax 3 Domaines, and finished today’s stage with a lead of five minutes three seconds over second-placed Nairo Quintana, who won today’s stage to crown his debut Tour.
Froome had looked like kicking for victory himself as they neared the flamme rouge, but it was a short-lived move as Quintana immediately responded and moved away to take the stage ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez in second.
The final placings saw Quintana claim second place overall, while Rodriguez also snatched a podium place with Alberto Contador — second at the start of the day — distanced on the final climb.
Jens Voigt, the German known for his attacking style and likely riding in his final Tour, had been in the early break and led by more than a minute and a half going into the final hors categorie climb to Annecy-Semnoz. But his 41-year-old legs could give no more and he was caught with 8.5 kilometres to go to the finish as Richie Porte led Froome past with Quintana in close contact.
That was the cue for Quintana and Rodriguez to attack, but Froome responded with a huge kick and raced past them, still more than eight kilometres from the summit.
With Porte dropping back, Froome was all alone at the front, Rodriguez and Quintana trying to hang with him on this challenging finale to the general classification fight.
With Contador struggling to keep up behind, Quintana and Rodriguez could sniff podium places and began to work with Froome to up the pace.
The three stuck together until the flamme rouge, one kilometre from the summit, came into view.
Froome roared past the other two, but the acceleration was momentary, and just as quickly Quintana hit back to ride away for victory. With time in hand, Froome let him go, and Rodriguez also pulled clear to finish 17 seconds behind Quintana and claim third on the podium.