When riders take to the final leg of the Tour de France on Sunday, there likely won’t be a surprise finish. As it stands, deciding the winner will be nothing more than a formality.
With three stage victories and a massive five-minute lead, 28-year-old Chris Froome is all but guaranteed a victory, left to cruise from Versailles to Paris for 10 victory laps down the Champs-Elysees.
Froome has been masterful throughout the event, and he’s poised to become the second consecutive British rider to win the Tour de France after Bradley Wiggins won it last year. Barring something unforeseen, England can probably start celebrating early.
Froome, fresh off a third-place finish in Stage 20, has created a nearly insurmountable lead, but the rest of the field is wide open. Behind him sit two riders separated by 44 seconds and two more within three minutes of a second-place finish.
|1.||GBR FROOME Christopher||1||SKY PROCYCLING||80h 49' 33''|
|2.||COL QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander||128||MOVISTAR TEAM||80h 54' 36''||+ 05' 03''|
|3.||ESP RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin||101||KATUSHA TEAM||80h 55' 20''||+ 05' 47''|
|4.||ESP CONTADOR Alberto||91||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||80h 56' 43''||+ 07' 10''|
|5.||CZE KREUZIGER Roman||94||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||80h 57' 43''||+ 08' 10''|
|6.||NED MOLLEMA Bauke||164||BELKIN PRO CYCLING||81h 01' 58''||+ 12' 25''|
|7.||DEN FUGLSANG Jakob||63||ASTANA PRO TEAM||81h 02' 33''||+ 13' 00''|
|8.||ESP VALVERDE Alejandro||121||MOVISTAR TEAM||81h 05' 42''||+ 16' 09''|
|9.||ESP NAVARRO Daniel||139||COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS||81h 06' 08''||+ 16' 35''|
|10.||USA TALANSKY Andrew||178||GARMIN - SHARP||81h 07' 55''||+ 18' 22''|
Colombian 23-year-old Nairo Quintana is the closest rider to overtaking Froome after winning the 20th stage and making his way into second place. Quintana has been a force throughout the race—particularly down the stretch—in securing four top-six finishes in the last six stages.
But he doesn’t have the comfortable lead that Froome boasts. Just 17 seconds separate the Colombian from his closest competition, and Joaquim Rodriguez isn’t going to hand the second-place finish to him.
Like Quintana, Rodriguez has come on strong to mount a late push. The 34-year-old Spaniard, fresh off a second-place finish in Stage 20, has now finished five stages in the top five and has just one more leg to push for a top finish.
That leg will be a fitting finish for a long, arduous race. After several mountain stages featuring treacherous climbs through the Alps, the race exits the mountains and across a landscape that opens up to riders eyeing the final destination in Paris.
Froome earned the yellow jersey and a massive lead by being one of the best mountain riders in the field, but he won’t have to worry much about the pure sprinters on their final push on Sunday. He put in the work in the mountains to ensure his final leg into the city would be mostly ceremonial.
The 133.5-kilometer finish will be lengthy enough for the rest of the field to shift considerably, however.
As expected, Denmark’s Alberto Contador is still in the hunt for a top-three finish, currently just 2:07 behind Quintana and 1:23 behind Rodriguez. The 30-year-old is no stranger to winning the Tour de France, having already captured two titles, but he may have to settle for making a final push to reach the second-place podium spot this year.