Chris Froome all-but-seals Tour de France 2017 victory with third place in final time trial

Maciej Bodnar wins final time trial; Froome nearly catches two-minute man Bardet to defend yellow jersey

Chris Froome (Team Sky) will win the 2017 Tour de France, barring disaster on the Champs-Elysees, after storming to third place in the stage 20 time trial in Marseille.

Needing to defend a 23-second lead from Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) in the 22.5km test  Froome did far more than that, nearly catching the Frenchman on the final run-in to the Orange Velodrome in Marseille.

Maciej Bodnar (Bora-hansgrohe) claimed stage victory in 28.15, one second quicker than Polish time trial champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and six faster than Froome.

But Froome’s efforts were enough to all-but-seal a fourth Tour de France win in five years, with Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) now second overall at 54 seconds.

Bardet, meanwhile, nearly lost his podium place entirely – finishing the stage just one second ahead of Mikel Landa (Team Sky) overall.

There will be two Brits on the final podium in Paris, meanwhile, with Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) finishing in the same time as Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) to all-but-seal the white jersey.

Chris Froome is back in the yellow jersey with less than 30 seconds between the top four overall (pic: Sirotti)

Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac) was the first serious time trial contender out onto the course, which featured cobbles; a steep climb; a twisting, technical descent; and even a headwind to contend with in the final five kilometres.

The American stopped the clock in 29.21, which looked a decent time on the technical course until Maciej Bodnar (Bora-hansgrohe) took more than a minute off that, with his mark of 28.15.

World champion Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) was just outside Bodnar’s time, in 28.29, but his predecessor in the rainbow jersey, Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky) was almost a further minute back.

European time trial champion Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) suffered a disaster, however, crashing as soon as he left the stadium and ultimately losing nearly 90 seconds to Bodnar.

Polish time trial champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), despite riding himself to a standstill for Froome in the Alps, went quicker than his compatriot at the first time check, and still led at the second despite losing four seconds on the climb.

But as he powered back round to the Orange Velodrome he could not quite maintain his pace and ultimately finished a second slower.

Pre-stage favourite Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), meanwhile, paid the price for an unplanned bike change at the bottom of the climb – the Slovenian ace ultimately finishing 49 seconds slower than Bodnar.

It meant Bodnar was still in the hot seat when the GC favourites began their efforts, with the noise ramping up in the Marseille stadium.

The partisan home crowd roared polka dot jersey Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) – who has been awarded the combativity prize for the whole race – down the ramp, while a giant Ag2r-La Mondiale jersey was unfurled when Bardet started his effort.

The reception for Froome was more mixed, with some boos ringing out from the French fans for Team Sky’s race leader.

On the road, tenth-placed Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) impressed, dancing up the climb unseated in his typical style, to pass the second time check just a fraction of a second slower than Kwiatkowski had.

He eventually lost time on the final run-in, stopping the clock in 28.36, but that was enough to climb a place to ninth overall.

In the battle for the white jersey, Yates was nine seconds faster than Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) to the top of the climb, easing any nerves in his bid to defend his two-minute advantage.

And though he lost that time on the final run-in, the two young riders both stopped the clock in 29.49, meaning Yates will – disaster on the Champs-Elysees aside – replicate his brother Adam’s white jersey success from last year.

For the second consecutive year, Froome will be joined on the Paris podium by one of the Yates twins – Simon having sealed the white jersey, a year after Adam’s youth classification success (pic – Pauline Ballet-ASO)

As for the overall battle, meanwhile, Froome flew out of the backs, and was just two seconds slower than team-mate Kwiatkowski at the first time check.

Bardet was 43 seconds slower than Froome, and 19 slower than Uran at that point, and nearly came a cropper on the cobbles too, as he overshot a bend and only narrowly avoided the central bollards.

The Frenchman was evidently suffering, struggling in and out of the saddle, and was nearly a minute down on Uran at the top of the climb.

His struggles were such, Landa’s time – and the final podium spot – came into play, with the Spaniard 44 seconds faster to the top of the climb.

Landa stopped the clock in the Orange Velodrome in 29.06, meaning Bardet had to finish the last four kilometres in less than five minutes.

Uran, meanwhile, hit the barriers on the final sweeping bend into the Orange Velodrome, unclipping but staying upright to seal second place overall.

Bardet was next to arrive, but raced into the stadium with Froome closing in by the pedal-stroke – the French fans’ cheers turning to boos as the yellow jersey arrived.

Bardet held onto the final podium place by just one second, while Froome stopped the clock just six seconds slower than Bodnar – his all-round ability putting him on the brink of a third consecutive Tour win, a fourth in five years for himself and a fifth in six years for a British rider.

Tour de France 2017: stage 20 (ITT) – result

1) Maciej Bodnar (POL) – Bora-hansgrohe – 28.15
2) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) – Team Sky +1″
3) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +6″
4) Tony Martin (GER) – Katusha-Alpecin +14″
5) Daryl Impey (RSA) – Orica-Scott +20″
6) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Trek-Segafredo +21″
7) Nikias Arndt (GER) – Team Sunweb +28″
8) Rigobero Uran (COL) – Cannondale-Drapac +31″
9) Stefan Kung (SUI) – BMC Racing +34″
10) Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) – Direct Energie +37″

General classification

1) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – 83.55.16hrs
2) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Cannondale-Drapac +54″
3) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +2.20
4) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Team Sky +2.21
5) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +3.05
6) Daniel Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors +4.42
7) Simon Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott +6.14
8) Louis Meintjes (RSA) – UAE Team Emirates +8.20
9) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Trek-Segafredo +8.49
10) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Team Sunweb +9.25

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