Froome to ride to Paris in yellow jersey at centennial Tour de France

Froome to ride to Paris in yellow jersey at centennial Tour de France

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Chris Froome completed the final mountain stage of the 2013 Tour de France as he started exactly two weeks ago, with a display of strength that left no doubt as to where the yellow jersey belonged.

The shortest stage of the race was - according to Team Sky Principal Sir Dave Brailsford - essential to not treat with complacency.

That was apparent as the race reached the base of the final climb, as Ian Stannard and then Kanstantsin Siutsou moved to the head of the peloton, which immediately fragmented.

Seconds ahead, the remnants of an early nine man breakaway rode to catch lone leader Jens Voigt, but more importantly avoid being swept up by a charging quartet of Sky jerseys.

That attempt was in vain and a group of only eight entered the final ten kilometres, 50 seconds down on Voigt.

An attack by Joaquim Rodriguez with eight kilometres to go made the final selection, with only Nairo Quintana and Froome able to follow.

A resurgent Rodriguez led until the final two kilometres when Froome made his final attack of the Tour. It was unfortunately the effort of a weakened man, as Quintana made the decisive counter, immediately taking the lead and with it his first and long-awaited stage victory.

Rodriguez battled for second and Froome for the first time crossed the line near certain of being crowned winner of the Tour de France.

Celebrating with his team after crossing the line came with the realisation that only a processional stage to Paris - taken seriously only by sprinters in search of a final stage win - remained.

For the first time since taking the yellow jersey, Froome could allow the reality of winning the Tour de France to cross his mind.

"I can’t quite believe I’m sitting here in this position really, it’s amazing. I’m a bit lost for words. Obviously we have still got to roll into Paris but this is it and to finish it off like this is really special.

"It was quite hard to stay on top of it with 3km to go, I knew this is it now, I’ve accomplished what I need to now, and I was overwhelmed with that feeling."

Result - stage 20

1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 3:39:04
2 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 0:00:18
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:29
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:42
5 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:02:17
6 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 0:02:27
7 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:02:28
8 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:48
9 Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:02:55
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:02:55

General classification after stage 20

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 80:49:33
2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:05:03
3 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 0:05:47
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:07:10
5 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:08:10
6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:12:25
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:13:00
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:16:09
9 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:16:35
10 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 0:18:22