Tour de France: Chris Froome third but victory within sight

 

Briton Chris Froome is set to win the 100th Tour de France after finishing third on the penultimate stage.

Froome, 28, leads by over five minutes and will not be challenged on Sunday's traditional procession into Paris.

"I can't quite believe I'm sitting here in this position," said Froome. "It really is amazing.

Analysis

"Chris Froome has been by the far the best rider on the Tour and it's been one of the best victories of recent times.

"While Sir Bradley Wiggins was reliant on his time trial, Froome has expressed himself in the mountains and been utterly dominant.

"There were signs that Alberto Contador hasn't been with it throughout the Tour and he's not really challenged despite being second for most of it.

"It's great to see Nairo Quintana win. He's an old style rider, small and attacking. It's a bit early to say but he could rival Froome in the future."

"I'm a bit lost for words. I've still got to roll into Paris but this is the GC [general classification] sorted out. To finish it off like this is special."

The Kenya-born rider added: "It was quite hard to stay on top once I got to three kilometres to go because I knew I had accomplished what I wanted to do. I was overwhelmed."

Team Sky's Froome stayed on the wheel of closest competitors Nairo Quintana and Joaquim Rodriguez as they climbed to the summit of Mont Semnoz and the Briton was forced to push away spectators with about three kilometres to go as they inadvertently threatened to impede his progress.

Quintana jumped clear late on to win and secure second overall while Rodriguez also moved onto the podium in Paris.

Spain's Alberto Contador started the day behind Froome but cracked on the final climb to drop to fourth overall, finishing two minutes and 28 seconds behind the stage winner.

Germany's Jens Voigt, the oldest competitor in the race at 41, had led a breakaway but was caught on the final hors categorie - the hardest rating - climb.

How they stand in the 2013 Tour

General (yellow jersey)

1. Chris Froome (GB)

2. Nairo Quintana (Col)

3. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa)

Points (green jersey)

1. Peter Sagan (Slo)

2. Mark Cavendish (GB)

3. Andre Greipel (Ger)

King of the Mountains (polka dot jersey)

1. Nairo Quintana (Col)

2. Chris Froome (GB)

3. Pierre Roland (Fra)

Young rider (white jersey)

1. Nairo Quintana (Col)

2. Andrew Talansky (US)

3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol)

Froome will become the second successive British winner when he crosses the line on the Champs Elysees following Sir Bradley Wiggins's victory 12 months ago.

He has led since stage eight and finished the 20th stage, from Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz on Saturday, with a lead of five minutes three seconds in the general classification.

Quintana's first ever stage win also secured the Colombian the polka dot jersey for the King of the Mountains to go with his white jersey for the best-placed rider under 25.

Peter Sagan, from Slovakia, took an an unassailable lead in the points classification with victory in the intermediate sprint to deny Mark Cavendish a chance of winning the green jersey.

But the Manxman will be aiming for victory as the tour concludes at sunset on Sunday in Paris as he bids to become the first rider to win the final stage on five occasions.

Cavendish, who has won the last four sprint finishes on the Champs Elysees, currently shares the record with the legendary Belgian Eddy Merckx.

The final stage will be under floodlights for the first time and is expected to finish at around 20:45 BST.

Results of stage 20:

1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar 3:39:04"

2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha +18"

3. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky +29"

4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar +1:42"

5. Richie Porte (GB) Team Sky +2:17"

Overall standings after stage 20:

1. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky 80:49:33"

2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar +5:03"

3. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha +5:47"

4. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff +7:10"

5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff +8:10"