MARSEILLE • Chris Froome all but wrapped up a third consecutive Tour de France triumph as he outpaced his rivals in the penultimate day time-trial won by Maciej Bodnar yesterday.
Last to go, the Team Sky rider was the third quickest of the 167 to tackle the 22.5km course that started and finished in Marseilles' Velodrome football stadium - extending his lead to 54sec going into today's ceremonial final stage ride into Paris.
Provided Froome avoids any calamities on the 103km trek from Montgeron to the French capital, he will take his Tour haul to four in the last five years - one behind cycling greats Miguel Indurain of Spain, Belgium's Eddy Merckx and Frenchmen Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil.
Froome, 32, goes on to the Tour honour roll as the first person to win three times in a row since Indurain who was unbeatable from 1991-95.
American Lance Armstrong won seven Tour titles from 1999-2005, but was later stripped of them for doping.
"It's an amazing feeling," said Froome.
"There was a lot of pressure coming into the stage with it being so close in the general classification. It's a really fitting way to end the battle for the Tour de France."
After surviving this week's Alpine stages, Froome arrived in the historic French port with a slender 23sec lead over France's Romain Bardet, but with perfect weather conditions, there were no scares as he produced a scorching ride to finish only six seconds behind Pole Bodnar.
Michal Kwiatkowski of Team Sky was second, one second behind his fellow Pole.
Bardet was roared on by huge crowds on a course that looped around the Vieux Port, but he struggled terribly on the steep hill towards the Basilica Notre-Dame and was almost caught by a charging Froome despite the Briton starting two minutes later.
Bardet was only the 52nd quickest in the time-trial, but remained one second ahead of Spain's Mikel Landa in third place in the overall standings.
Colombian Rigoberto Uran hit a barrier but moved above Bardet into second place.
REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN
TOUR DE FRANCE
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