Chris Froome all but wrapped up his third Tour de France crown after finishing safely in a group of fellow title contenders on Saturday’s penultimate 20th stage.
The day’s race was won by Movistar’s Ion Izagirre, the Spaniard crossing the finishing line in first place at the end of the mountainous stage from Mègeve to Morzine.
The 27-year-old Izagirre formed part of an early breakaway and then shed his fellow escapees on the slippery downhill run to the finish.
IAM’s Jarlinson Pantano finished second and Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali was third.
“It was a very difficult breakaway, lots of high-caliber riders involved in it,” said Izagirre.
“I looked to do the best descending that I could. I tried to go full gas and I managed to get it right. It went really well.”
Movistar have not had a memorable campaign this year, with main contender Nairo Quintana unable to challenge Froome for the title, but Izagirre offers at least some consolation.
“Finally, we have something to celebrate in this year’s Tour,” said Izagirre. “We came to this Tour with a dream of the yellow jersey but a stage win and a podium in Paris is pretty awesome.”
The day was really all about Froome, who needed only to avoid disaster to virtually seal his overall victory, with Sunday’s final stage traditionally little more than a procession into Paris followed by a sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees.
Froome just had to ensure he did not fall on the rain-slicked roads as he made the descent towards the end, which he managed to comfortably to finish more than four minutes clear of runner-up Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
Quintana looks set to secure third place overall.
“I still need to get the yellow jersey to Paris tomorrow but certainly the racing side is done and dusted,” Froome said.
“It’s an amazing feeling of relief, just coming over the last line today. Thank you to all my team-mates, they’ve really been there for me every step of the way and I couldn’t ask for more.”
Stage 20 results
1. Jon Izagirre (Spa/Movistar) 4hrs 06mins 45secs
2. Jarlinson Pantano (Col/IAM Cycling) 19secs
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 42secs
4. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Etixx – Quick-Step) 49secs
5. Rui Costa (Por/Lampre) 1min 43secs
6. Roman Kreuziger (Cze/Tinkoff) 1min 44secs
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/LottoNL) 2mins 30secs
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa/Katusha) 3mins 24secs
9. Daniel Martin (Ire/Etixx – Quick-Step) 4mins 12secs
10. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) Same time
General classification after stage 20
1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 86hrs 21mins 40secs
2. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) 4mins 05secs
3. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) 4mins 21secs
4. Adam Yates (GB/Orica) 4mins 42secs
5. Richie Porte (Aus/BMC Racing) 5mins 17secs