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Joaquim Rodriguez moves up to second overall as Contador left behind on final climb

Tomorrow evening, Team Sky will lead Chris Froome onto the Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris as champion-in-waiting of the 100th edition of the Tour de France. Froome finished third in today’s 20th and penultimate stage of the race, which was won by Movistar's Nairo Quintana.

Quintana is set to secure the runner's-up spot occupied by Froome 12 months ago and also to clinch both best young rider's white jersey and the polka dot jersey as King of the Mountains as he overhauled Froome in that classification today.

Quintana was one of three riders who fought it out for the stage win on the Hors-Categorie climb at Annecy-Semnoz - the others were Froome and Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez.

The Spaniard finished second today, and moves to third overall, with Saxo-Tinkoff's Alberto Contador, who had started the day second on General Classifcation, 5 minutes 11 seconds behind Froome, dropped early on that final climb and losing more than 2 minutes to his rivals. He now lies fourth.

This time last year, Froome finished as runner-up to his team mate, Bradley Wiggins, the first British rider to win the yellow jersey. Tomorrow, Froome will be the second as he takes to the top step of the podium, and what’s more, he will be the first winner of the race born in Africa.

At 125 kilometres, today’s third and final day in the Alps was the shortest road stage of this year’s race, but it featured six categorised climbs, the last two being the Category 1 Mont Revard, the summit coming 46.5 kilometres from the end, and the Hors-Categorie finish at Annecy-Semnoz.

The three riders who would contest the stage win, and who barring misfortune will occupy the steps of the podium in Paris tomorrow, had got away from their rivals early on during that final climb as the remnants of the day’s break, including RadioShack-Leopard’s Jens Voigt, who had burst clear earlier and spent almost half the stage out in front on his own, were swept up.

With the road starting to rise from a couple of kilometres before the final climb of 10.7 kilometres officially began, Team Sky, able to take things relatively easy until now thanks to Movistar taking on the earlier pacesetting to keep the break in check, moved to the front of the group and began to eat into Voigt’s advantage, which stood at little more than a minute as the ascent started.

With Movistar also coming to back the front, one by one the remaining escapees were swept up as even with 10 kilometres to go, the lead group had been whittled down to a handful of riders, among them Froome, his team mate Porte, Contador, Quintana plus his Movistar colleague Alejandro Valverde, as well as Rodriguez.

Voigt was caught with 8.5 kilometres remaining, and now it was Porte who went to the front, Froome on his wheel. Immediately, Rodriguez attacked, Quintana following him.

Froome for a moment looked in trouble but suddenly put in a huge burst of acceleration to bridge across to the pair in front, then another that briefly seemed to leave Quintana and Rodriguez unable to respond.

Within moments, they had rejoined him, forming the trio that would fight it out for the stage win, but Contador, who has worn the yellow jersey in Paris on three occasions – his 2010 title would later be taken away from him after his positive test for clenbuterol – was nowhere to be seen.

Despite the assistance of team mate Roman Kreuziger the Spaniard, expected to have been Froome’s closest rival prior to the race beginning, does not now have even the consolation of a podium place.

The racing had been explosive from the start of the stage as Pierre Rolland of Europcar sought to overhaul Froome in the mountains classification and succeed team mate Thomas Voeckler, who won the contest last year.

Rolland, wearing the polka dot jersey today by virtue of Froome being in yellow, spent most of the day as virtual leader of the classification as he swept up points, but as well as competing on the five summits ahead of the final climb, he had to make sure he finished high on the stage.

Ultimately, his efforts would be in vain as the overall contenders shot past him early on in the final ascent, and the double points on offer on that summit finish, meant Froome’s nemesis - for the mountains classification at least - turned out to be Quintana, who has a lead of 11 points.

After Rolland’s initial move, three other riders including Voigt joined him, and on the day’s second climb, the group had swelled to ten, but it was never allowed too much leeway and was always doomed, as was Voigt’s attack from 62 kilometres out.

Whether the 41-year-old German will ride another Tour is open to question – his legions of fans will be hoping his legs will obey the order to “shut up” for another year – but  his efforts today were rewarded with the combativity prize.

One other jersey was mathematically decided today, the points classification, although it has long been clear that Cannondale’s Peter Sagan, who won it last year, had it firmly in his grasp.

All that remains now is what promises to be an exciting and spectacular final stage into Paris tomorrow, with British champion Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma-Quick Step looking to secure a fifth final-day win in a row. André Greipel of Lotto-Belisol, and Argos-Shimano’s Marcel Kittel, will be foremost among those vying to be the first to beat him on the Champs-Elysées.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

18 comments

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mattsccm [330 posts] 3 years ago
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And I had my money on Quintana pulling a fast one on an ailing Froome today.  3
What a shame we now have yet another boring procession tomorrow with about a minute of interesting riding in the sprint.
Come the revolution I will have the tour finishing with an evil hill or why not a time trial again?

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herohirst [71 posts] 3 years ago
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"Contador loses podium place"

I had a god laugh at that bit. Made my day.
Almost as good as "Valverde has disastrous day" last week.

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CyclingDan [39 posts] 3 years ago
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Froomey!!! A much better champion than Wiggins with this win, where Sky were weaker this year, A harder route, and also stronger competition. So Cath Wiggins should have just kept her mouth shut last year!!
+1 on Contador (drug cheat) losing a podium, I loved that moment when he was dropped by the trio.

This now leaves Wiggins in a even weaker position with his place at Sky

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Doper [69 posts] 3 years ago
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"Joaquim Rodriguez moves up to second overall... "

You mean third.

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 3 years ago
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I totally agree cyclingdan, Froome is a much better, and much more worthy champion, than Wiggins, definitely. But shame about Contador, drug cheat and all imo.

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Doper [69 posts] 3 years ago
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You guys are really going to regret trashing the drug cheats whilst cheering on Froome.

Just warnin'.  22

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vasgko2 [23 posts] 3 years ago
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Congrats to Froome for securing the yellow jersey (despite breaking the rules on stage 18). The real winner of this TdF is Quintana though. No serious help from team mates and not bending the rules.

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crazy-legs [767 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

What a shame we now have yet another boring procession tomorrow with about a minute of interesting riding in the sprint.
Come the revolution I will have the tour finishing with an evil hill or why not a time trial again?

Disagree. The final 10 laps of the Champs Elysees is amazing - attack after attack, the leadout trains and the final sprint, a reward for the sprinters after struggling through the Alps all week.

A TT now would be pointless, no-one is going to get 5 minutes back, all it might do is shake up the lower positions a bit.

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sneakerfrfeak [101 posts] 3 years ago
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CyclingDan wrote:

Froomey!!! A much better champion than Wiggins with this win, where Sky were weaker this year, A harder route, and also stronger competition. So Cath Wiggins should have just kept her mouth shut last year!!
+1 on Contador (drug cheat) losing a podium, I loved that moment when he was dropped by the trio.

This now leaves Wiggins in a even weaker position with his place at Sky

Oh well done, you've managed to insult Wiggins AND his wife, you must be quite proud of yourself?

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Super Domestique [1605 posts] 3 years ago
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Love the idea (mentioned in commentry) of an older riders (35 plus) jersey. The vets deserve some credit.

Congrats to Froome. I hope that my trust in his clean racing stands the test (excuse the pun) of time.

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Cycle_Jim [264 posts] 3 years ago
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At Froome interview post race, loved it if he had said "Up yours wiggo you cocky dick"
Love wiggo, froome is great, lets hope that the pair come back for a brit hat trick at the tour  1

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Mat Brett [624 posts] 3 years ago
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Super Domestique wrote:

Love the idea (mentioned in commentry) of an older riders (35 plus) jersey. The vets deserve some credit.

It should be a brown cardigan with leather patches on the elbows.

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Lungsofa74yearold [282 posts] 3 years ago
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+1 cycling Dan & karbon Kev re Froome - fantastic ride & a worthy winner.

Got to say I loved Bertie's risk taking, attacking and aggressive style - now he's no longer utterly juiced, you see the real rider. And before I get slated, I was a confirmed Bertie hater before this Tour started. He's been a star for me this Tour. Really feel for him today.

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Lungsofa74yearold [282 posts] 3 years ago
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Should add for me this has been best Tour in years and I hope the organizers put routes like this together more often.

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Leviathan [1986 posts] 3 years ago
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Bashers put your toys back in your play pen:
Froome and Wiggins are both equal and worthy winners, one title each. True Froome now has a one, two, but Brad has all those shiny medals *clink*. Equal and different. I hope for more from Brad and expect more from Froome. Roll on the Vuelta.

Time trail in Paris would be good again but would be lucky to be pivotal as with Lemond. But who doesn't want to see Cav winning?

Well done to Richie Porte for getting back into the top 20, hope to see more of him soon up the front. And don't forget GT finished when his Mum told him not to!

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 3 years ago
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I too hope the dope free confidence is not miss placed.

I also like the idea of an older riders competition, there are some very worthy riders who deserve the recognition.

All in all it's been very entertaining.

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Colin Peyresourde [1724 posts] 3 years ago
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It's been a good tour. But really the last thing the organisers want is another drug scandal. I think that we may not hear anything negative this year for that reason.

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northstar [1108 posts] 3 years ago
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bikeboy76 wrote:

Bashers put your toys back in your play pen:
Froome and Wiggins are both equal and worthy winners, one title each. True Froome now has a one, two, but Brad has all those shiny medals *clink*. Equal and different. I hope for more from Brad and expect more from Froome. Roll on the Vuelta.

Time trail in Paris would be good again but would be lucky to be pivotal as with Lemond. But who doesn't want to see Cav winning?

Well done to Richie Porte for getting back into the top 20, hope to see more of him soon up the front. And don't forget GT finished when his Mum told him not to!

No I won't, i just don't blindy accept whatever is said to me ; )