Christopher Froome (Sky) set the final seal on his 2013 Tour de France with an attacking ride on the race’s final summit finish on stage 20.
In the end he couldn’t add a fourth stage to his tally for this year, but his third place here will be only a fleeting regret. Tomorrow, he will almost certainly stand on the podium on the Champs Elysees, and pull on the sequined Yellow Jersey that the Tour has in store to celebrate the final stage’s first evening finish.
The stage itself was a hugely popular win for this year’s best young rider, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who was the race’s strongest climber other than Froome. In doing so he cemented his second position on the podium, at 5’03″. The third place was decided when Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) crossed the line a few seconds behind him, ending up 5’57″ down on Froome.
Team Sky’s leader ignited the GC race with an attack 8km from the finish, on the obscure but horribly difficult Semnoz climb. Within just a few meters the shape of the race for both the stage and the overall was determined when only Quintana and Rodriguez were able to go with him. The trio raced towards the finish together. Froome attacked again a kilometer out, but couldn’t make it stick this time. Quintana and then Rodriguez were able to accelerate past him.
The man expected to be Froome’s main challenger in this year’s Tour, Albero Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), was unceremoniously dropped by the sudden acceleration, and ended up two and a half minutes down on Quintana on the stage. He lost two minutes on Froome to end up off the podium in fourth overall.
Froome’s day was only briefly threatened by an over-enthusiastic fan, who, running alongside Quintana, bumbled into the race leader. The fan was shoved aside by Froome, but it was another crowd incident on a Tour that seems to have had rather more of them than usual.
Froome and the rest of Team Sky can now finally breath out, and look forward to leading the race onto he Champs Elysees tomorrow evening for the second year running. Their win wasn’t as easy as it was last year, but they were still the dominant team, with the strongest rider. The other GC contenders have another year of trying to work out how to beat them.
Tour de France 2013, stage 20: Annecy to Annecy – Semnoz, 125km
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar in 3-39-04
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 18 secs
3. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 29 secs
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1-42
5. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 2-17
6. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp at 2-27
7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 2-28
8. John Gadret (Fra) Ag2r at 2-48
9. Jesus Hernandez (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 2-55
10. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 2-55
Overall classification after stage 20
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky in 80-49-33
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 5-03
3. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 5-47
4. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 7-10
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 8-10
6. Bauke Mollema (Bel) Belkin at 12-25
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 13-00
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 16-09
9. Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis at 16-35
10. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp at 18-22
Alberto Contador leads Richie Porte and Andrew Talansky
Chris Froome and Joaquim Rodriguez
Nairo Quintana wins the stage, and with it the white jersey and mountains classification lead and second overall