Froome takes another step toward Tour de France crown

Froome takes another step toward Tour de France crown

It may have been the tightest victory of Froome's Tour successes but there was little to suggest he won't go on to match the record next year and even beat it in the future.

His winning margin in this Tour, 54 seconds over Rigoberto Uran of Colombia going into Sunday's processional final stage, is narrower than Froome's previous wins in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

And Sunday's ride into Paris is traditionally a procession before only the sprinters contest victory at the end.

Chris Froome, 32, told reporters yesterday he was proud to be just one win away from four others who have won the tour five times.

"It was so close coming into this TT".

"You need a guy like Tom Dumoulin", he said of the Dutchman, an excellent time trialist who won the Giro d'Italia this year but skipped the Tour.

"I have to treat it like any other time-trial that I've done before", he said.

Only six yellow jersey winners have won the Tour without claiming a stage along the way - and Froome will aim to avoid joining that list tomorrow.

"If you look at the riders behind Chris Froome, none of them is a time trialist".

He was booed and whistled at by fans at the Stade Velodrome when he went down the starting ramp, but was in control throughout, gaining time on his main rivals at all the intermediate check points.

Better than all of his main rivals in the race against the clock, he gained time on all of them and nearly caught Bardet in the final meters.

Froome, who starts the day with a 54-second advantage, will nearly certainly be the one making the winner's speech on the Champs Elysees.

Michael Matthews also lapped up the final day of the race in the green jersey, Froome among the riders to offer his congratulations en route to Paris, with Warren Barguil already crowned King of the Mountains.

Mikel Landa was only one second shy or reaching the podium and jumping over Bardet. But the French rider melted in the heat on the twisting and technical time trial course.

"The Alps have always been really tough for me", he said. As everyone knows I have my own unique style on the bike.

The versatile Norwegian, riding for the African-based Team Dimension Data, was part of a nine-man lead group speeding toward a roundabout 2.5km from the finish line of the 222km trek from Embrun on Stage 19.

And while for many the dice have been rolled as Froome is usually a far superior time-trialist to Bardet, there is one glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Australian Michael Matthews is all but mathematically the green sprinters' points jersey victor - he needs either a single point on Friday or for Andre Greipel to fail to take maximum points in order to win.

"I still can't believe it", Bodnar said.

"Each win has been so unique, such a different battle and this will be remembered as the closest and most hard-fought".



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