Geraint Thomas of Team Sky effectively secured victory in the 2018 Tour de France after retaining the yellow jersey in Saturday's individual time trial—the penultimate stage of this year's Tour—which Tom Dumoulin won.
Dumoulin completed the 31-kilometre course from Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle to Espelette in 40 minutes and 52 seconds, one second ahead of closest competitor Chris Froome, who sealed an overall podium place behind Dumoulin and ahead of Primoz Roglic.
Thomas was 14 seconds back on Dumoulin, but having entered the stage with a lead of over two minutes, it was more than enough for him to keep the yellow jersey. As tradition dictates, the wearer of the yellow jersey is not attacked on the final stage, and Thomas needs only to complete Stage 21 on Sunday to win the Tour.
Here is the classification for Stage 20 and the overall standings with one stage remaining:
Thomas showed his intent throughout the course—he was the quickest through the first two intermediates at the 13 and 22-kilometre marks, despite an early wobble:
Indeed, at the latter he was 13 seconds faster than team-mate Froome, who had earlier laid markers at those two points in his bid to secure a place on the podium ahead of Roglic. The LottoNL-Jumbo man disappointingly finished more than a minute behind.
Although a slower final sector allowed Dumoulin to secure the stage win, the Welshman had done enough to secure a far grander prize:
Le Tour de France @LeTour
It's (almost) done! @GeraintThomas86 finishes 3rd of the stage, but retains his Maillot Jaune and will win Le Tour de France 2018! 🏆 C'est (presque) fait ! @GeraintThomas86 termine 3e du CLM mais garde son @MaillotJauneLCL et devrait gagner Le Tour de France 2018 ! 🏆 #TDF2018 https://t.co/Wpn2oq2N0c
Thomas was elated with his victory:
Owing to their position in general classification, Thomas and his immediate rivals were last out of the blocks, and the conditions they faced were somewhat more favourable than what the early riders had to contend with as they duelled for the lead.
Despite rain contributing to slippery roads, Michael Hepburn had set the early lead with the first notable time of the day at 42:15. Soren Kragh Andersen beat that time by more than 30 seconds as the roads dried, but just moments later, he was beaten by Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski, who was a second quicker.
With a time in excess of 47 minutes, Lawson Craddock hardly troubled the classification for Stage 20, but his completion of the time trial was an emotional moment:
Cycling writer Mihai Cazacu offered a reminder of how far the American has come since his Tour began with an inauspicious start:
Mihai Cazacu @faustocoppi60
Lawson Craddock is one of the heroes of this Tour de France. After his crash on stage 1, I couldn't imagine he will start the next day. And still here he is, beating the broken shoulder pain, one day before Paris. Chapeau, monsieur Craddock! 👏👏👏 #TDF2018 https://t.co/HMJQSG3lgT
Unless Craddock can make up more than 18 minutes on Jacopo Guarnieri on Sunday, he'll finish the Tour as the lanterne rouge, a title he'll be able to bear with honour after his time in France.
All eyes will be Thomas on the Champs-Elysee, though, with Team Sky set to win their sixth Tour out of the last seven.