Peloton Cafe || 2013 Tour de France, Stage 20 – Chris Froome (image copyright Sirotti)
[W:Chris Froome] finished a fine third on stage 20 at the [W:Tour de France] to all but guarantee victory in the 100th edition of the Grand Tour. The [W:Team Sky] Brit looked comfortable on the final hors-categorie summit finish to stick with his podium rivals until the final metres – the yellow jersey safe on his back with a cushion of five minutes and three seconds. On the Annecy-Semnoz finish Froome unleashed a powerful acceleration on the climb to bridge across to [W:Joaquim Rodriguez] (Katusha) and [W:Nairo Quintana] (Movistar) as the trio each secured their places on the final podium. Quintana was able to follow a late dig from the maillot jaune heading under the flamme rouge before kicking on to claim the stage win – pulling himself up to second on the podium in the process. Rodriguez hung on for second, elevating himself to third on the Paris podium, but the day was all about Froome who finished off his general classification campaign in style. Team Sky hit the bottom of the 10.7 kilometre final climb hard with [W:Ian Stannard] and [W:Geraint Thomas] stringing it out initially before [W:Kanstantsin Siutsou] and [W:David L?pez] took it up to thin out the lead group. Porte finished the stage fifth to round out a strong day for the team. All Froome and his teammates need to do is ride safely onto the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday night to secure back-to-back Tour victories for Britain and Team Sky. Ready for Paris
After the stage Froome – who will now become the first African-born winner of the Tour de France – admitted: “I can’t quite believe I’m sitting here in this position. This really is amazing. I’m a bit lost for words. We still have to roll into Paris tomorrow but this is it, this is the GC side of it pretty much sorted out and to finish it off like this is really special. “It was quite hard to stay on top of it once I got to about three kilometres to go and it sunk in that this is it, I’ve accomplished what I needed to. I was just following the wheels and just overwhelmed by the feeling of ‘OK this is it now, I’m safe and I’ve got pretty much to the finish.'” Sports Director Nicolas Portal was also showing signs of emotion at the finish. He added: “I?ll probably realise what?s happened on Monday when I get home, I hope, but it?s starting to sink in that we have won the Tour. “It?s not over yet, but we have won the Tour, and that?s something special.” Final hurdle
The penultimate stage provided the final general classification test for Team Sky and Froome with a short 125 kilometre route proving no less difficult across a parcours packed with climbs. Ten riders eventually combined early on in the break but a motivated Movistar squad kept the race on a short leash, pegging the gap at around one minute. Despite the close attentions of the peloton [W:Pierre Rolland] (Europcar) was able to rack up 10 mountain points, moving into the lead of the polka dot jersey competition briefly out on the road. [W:Tejay Van Garderen] ([W:BMC Racing Team]) bridged across the gap as Movistar finally slackened off the chase, but business soon picked up as the peloton approached the final climb of the race. A brave solo bid from [W:Jens Voigt] ([W:RadioShack-Leopard]) was reeled in on the steep slopes with 8.5 kilometres to go as the main contenders hit the front, [W:Alberto Contador] ([W:Team Saxo-Tinkoff]) falling into difficulties to lose his place on the podium. Victory for Quintana secured the Colombian the polka dot jersey at the expense of Froome, in addition to the white young rider?s jersey but it was an elated Froome who clenched his fist as the winner elect for this year?s race.