Chris Froome set for third Tour de France title after penultimate stage

Froome with blood on his right shoulder elbow and knee still extended his lead Kenzo Tribouillard  AFP  Getty Images

Much of the penultimate 146.5km stage from Megeve was played out in heavy rain but Froome, who crashed on Friday’s stage to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc, was able to avoid late drama after dominating this Tour.

The 31-year-old is to become the first ever British rider to win three titles in the famous race once the event comes to a close in Paris tomorrow.

The way in which the Kenyan-born Briton rose to prominence – a teenage ingénue at the UCI’s World Cycling Centre in Aigle, a raw and inconsistent rider at Barloworld, a bit part player at Sky until he suddenly exploded onto the scene with his second place at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana – has been the subject of plenty of comment and no little scepticism.

“A third place or another podium in the Tour in these conditions is a joy for me and I’m very happy”, said the 26-year-old Colombian who many expected to dethrone Froome this year. “Chris Froome was very good, his opponents less good”.

“We have finished with nine riders in the race and it’s been a great few weeks”.

“We told Froomey to just stick on me and we had three guys behind him in case anything did happen”.

“It was still fast but we weren’t taking any risks at all”.

“I was feeling good and it was a nice way to end”.

Izaguirre won the stage after a daring descent to the finish having crested the final climb, the Col de Joux Plane, alongside 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali and Colombian Jarlinson Pantano, victor of the 15th stage last Sunday.

With such a large lead going into today, it was always likely that a mixture of the weather, misfortune and some dodgy downhills was going to be more of a threat to Chris Froome (Team Sky) than attacks from his rivals.

Froome was content to cross the line four minutes and 18 seconds after Movistar’s Izaguirre, allowing himself half a smile as he thanked his team-mates on the approach to the line.

The Briton has looked a cut above all of his rivals since early in the second week of this Tour, but Friday’s crash had been a reminder that nothing was won yet. “When he attacked in the Peyrsourde descent it was such a surprise”.

Ahead of the final climb of this year’s Tour, the Col de la Joux Plane, it was AG2R-La Mondiale, defending the second place overall that Romain Bardet claimed with his stage win yesterday, and Orica-BikeExchange, looking to get Adam Yates back onto the podium, who led the chase.

Tour de France tradition conventionally sees the holder of the yellow jersey ride through the French capital on the final day unchallenged, meaning he is now poised to and become the first man to win back-to-back titles since Miguel Indurain in 1995.

Izagirre had enough time to clap his hands together in celebration as he crossed the line and secured his first career stage win in the Tour, having also won a stage in the 2012 Giro d’Italia.

Pantano nearly skidded off the road on the descent while Nibali was uncharacteristically tentative following his crash on Friday, allowing Izaguirre to ride clear and take the first stage win for a Spaniard in this Tour.

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