As has been the case many times in recent years, the outcome of the Tour de France seems to be decided long before the 21st and final stage.
That's because Chris Froome has been a class above the rest of the field for much of the first 15 stages of the historic race, and he was at his best during No. 15 at Mont Ventoux.
During this stage, Froome outlasted the competition, which included two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador, and despite some grueling attacks, the British rider came out on top and will be riding off with a healthy lead going into Tuesday.
In the Tour's longest stage, Froome extended his lead over second-ranked Bauke Mollema to a seemingly insurmountable four minutes and 14 seconds, and perhaps more importantly, made up for lost time with regards to Contador (via ESPN).
The win means Froome effectively made up the time he lost on Friday's sprint stage, when Contador caught him with a surprise attack. He leads Dutchman Bauke Mollema by 4 minutes, 14 seconds and Contador by 4:25.
"It wasn't really about sending (Contador) a message, but I'm obviously going to take as much time as I can," Froome said. "I'm really happy to have this advantage now."
With Contador this far back, even if the legendary Spaniard can mount a late push, Froome is in an ideal position to improve upon his second-place finish at the Tour a year ago.
What was most impressive about Froome's win at Mont Ventoux was the sheer relentlessness of his attacks up the massive mountain and his ability to ward off the constant attempts from Contador, Nairo Quintana and the rest of the lead group.
He showed mettle in fending off Quintana in the latter parts of the stage, as well as the type of determination Tour de France champions are made of.
Froome won't shrink now that he's in the spotlight—he'll relish it, and that's why the four-minute, 14-second lead he has on the field will be more than enough to secure the yellow jersey for good.
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