By Thomas Dodd
- Britain’s Chris Froome wins stage 18 Alpine Time Trial to increase overall lead
- Sky rider’s advantage is now three minutes 52 seconds with two days of climbing left before Paris
- Fellow Brit and best young rider Adam Yates goes well to hold on to third in general classification
MEGEVE, FRANCE – Chris Froome moved a step closer to a third Tour de France title by winning the stage 18 time trial.
In a performance befitting of the yellow jersey he wore on his shoulders, Froome powered his way up the steepest sections of the 17km Alpine route to come home twenty one seconds clear of Tom Dumoulin and extend his overall lead to just under four minutes.
Despite being some seconds down at the first time check, the defending champion blitzed the middle part of the uphill course to turn a ten second deficit into a twenty one second advantage by the time he crossed the line.
BMCs Richie Porte and Fabio Aru were the biggest winners in the race for second place, losing only thirty-three seconds to Froome and sixth-placed Porte now lies just sixty-eight seconds off second place Bauke Mollema.
Britain’s Adam Yates continued his strong Tour by conceding just over a minute to the yellow jersey in his weakest discipline and gaining two seconds on Mollema – the rider currently occupying the ‘best of the rest’ position in the standings.
For a while it looked as though Dumoulin’s time would go unbeaten for the rest of the day, as many of the riders decided to ease off and save energy in a discipline that did not suit them in order to save energy for the final two mountain stages on Friday and Saturday.
And when Porte and Froome both took longer to come through the opening time check the Dutchman looked on course for a third stage victory of this year’s race and a second against the clock in the space of ten days.
But any fears the man in yellow was about to suffer his first bad day in two and a half weeks were quickly extinguished as the two-time champion romped across the finish line before punching the air in salute of a job very well done.
Only two meaningful stages of racing now stand between the Briton and a third Tour victory.
Froome has now spent 41 days of his career in the famed maillot jaune, placing him fifth on the all-time list.
Tomorrow’s short stage sees the race head up Mont Blanc after travelling 146km from Albertville across the out of category Montee de Bisanne.
Stage 18 Result (Sallanches to Megeve 17km)
1. Chris Froome (GBR) Sky +30minutes43seconds
2. Tom Dumoulin (HOL) Giant Alpecin +21 seconds
3. Fabio Aru (ITA) Astana +33
4. Richie Porte (NZ) BMC Racing +33
5. Romain Bardet (FRA) AG2R +42
6. Thomas de Gendt (BEL) Lotto Soudal +1m02
7. Jon Isausti Izaguirre (ESP) Movistar +1m03
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) Katusha +1m05
9. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre Merida +1m24
10. Nairo Quintana (COL) Movistar +1m25
16. Adam Yates, Orica, +1m02
23. Geraint Thomas, Sky +1m48
121. Stephen Cummings, Dimension Data +4m12
127. Luke Rowe, Sky +4m24
161. Ian Stannard, Sky +5m15
174. Daniel McLay, Fortuneo +6m18
Overall Standings (After Stage 18):
1. Chris Froome (GBR) Sky 77h25m1seconds
2. Bauke Mollema (HOL) Trek-Segafredo +3m52
3. Adam Yates (GBR) Orica +4m16
4. Nairo Quintana (COL) Movistar +4m37
5. Romain Bardet (FRA) AG2R +4m57
6. Richie Porte (NZ) BMC Racing +5m00
7. Fabio Aru (ITA) Astana +6m08
8. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Movistar +6m37
9. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre-Merida +7m15
10. Dan Martin (IRE) Etixx-QuickStep +7m18
15. Geraint Thomas, Sky +22m24
138. Stephen Cummings, Dimension Data +3h15m55
164. Luke Rowe, Sky +3h32m55
169. Ian Stannard, Sky +3h36m40
173. Daniel McLay, Fortuneo +3h45m21
(Abandoned after Stage 16): Mark Cavendish, Dimension Data
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