Morzine (France) (AFP) – Chris Froome all but wrapped up the 2016 Tour de France title as Spaniard Ion Izaguirre won the 20th and penultimate stage on Saturday.
With Sunday’s 21st and final stage little more than a procession into Paris, only a disaster can deny Froome a third Tour title now.
Despite crashing on Friday, Froome comfortably held onto his lead of more than four minutes over Frenchman Romain Bardet on the rainy 146.5km stage from Megeve to Morzine in the Alps.
Izaguirre won the stage after a daring descent to the finish having crested the final climb, the Col de Joux Plane, alongside 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali and Colombian Jarlinson Pantano, winner of the 15th stage last Sunday.
Pantano almost skidded off the road on the descent while Nibali was uncharacteristically tentative following his crash on Friday, allowing Izaguirre to ride clear and take the first stage win for a Spaniard in this Tour.
Behind, the expected — or perhaps merely hoped for — fireworks amongst the top 10 failed to materialise.
Froome had crashed on Friday but any suggestion that he might be vulnerable was dispelled by a show of force from his Sky team that rode on the front of the peloton all day.
Even on the final climb, no-one dared attack, bar Bauke Mollema and Joaquim Rodriguez, although having started the day in 10th and 11th respectively, theirs was mere squabbling over minor positions.