MARSEILLE, France (AP) — Chris Froome has virtually sealed a fourth Tour de France victory on the penultimate stage, stamping his authority on the race in a time trial in Marseille streets.
Froome, the last rider to set off from the Stade Velodrome, finished third in the 22.5-kilometer stage won by Maciej Bodnar, and increased his overall lead.
Colombian rider Rigoberto Uran moved to second place in the general classification, 54 seconds behind Froome, after Frenchman Romain Bardet cracked and dropped to third overall, according to provisional results.
Only the largely ceremonial stage into Paris on the Champs-Elysees stands between Froome and his fourth triumph in five years.
The British rider from Team Sky also won cycling’s biggest race in 2013, 2015 and 2016. He did not win a single stage this year.
Froome, who was booed and whistled by fans at the Stade Velodrome when he went down the starting ramp, almost caught Bardet in the finale.
He was in control throughout, gaining time on his main rivals at all intermediate check points.
Bardet endured his first bad day after three grueling weeks, and reached his limits in the small climb up to Notre-Dame de la Garde cathedral.
Bardet salvaged a spot on the podium by one second, ahead of Mikel Landa of Spain.
Bardet had been second overall before the clock race, with an advantage of more than a minute over Landa. But the French rider melted in the heat on the twisting and technical time trial course.
He said, “I was in poor health and I paid for it, in cash.”
He added he felt his immune system starting to react after the last stage in the high Alps and “I didn’t feel well this morning.”
Twice a runner-up at the Giro d’Italia, Uran added another second-place finish at a Grand Tour on his resume but almost saw his hopes destroyed when he hit barriers as he entered the Velodrome, which hosted the start and finish of Stage 20. Uran managed to stay on his bike but lost precious time and finished 31 seconds off the pace.
Froome’s teammate, Michal Kwiatkowski, was second in the time trial, one second behind Bodnar.