• Ion Izagirre (Movistar) celebrates his stage 20 win in Morzine (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Ion Izagirre put on a descending masterclass on the slopes into Morzine to take the first stage win for Movistar at this year's Tour de France.
By
Cycling Central

24 Jul 2016 - 3:15 AM  UPDATED 24 Jul 2016 - 6:00 AM

For spectators, the final nine kilometres into Morzine was almost an embarrassment of riches with excellent descenders Jarlinson Pantano (IAM), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Izagirre and Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) putting on a show in the rain. 

But Izagirre gapped Pantano and Nibali on a corner they found a little more challenging, to finish ahead of Pantano by 19 seconds, and Nibali, 42 seconds. In difficulty just before the summit of the Joux Plane and dropped by Nibali and Pantano, the Frenchman Alaphilippe finished just seven seconds behind the Italian, demonstrating his strength once again this Tour. 

Izagirre too appeared as if from nowhere. The Spaniard was in the group behind Alaphilippe and Pantano at the start of the final hors categorie ascent with 24km to go, but fought back to pass Alaphillipe and join Nibali and the Colombian before the summit.    

Izagirre understood the significance of his victory over such company. 

“Beating Nibali in a downhill is something that counts in a career but Pantano also descends very well. I'm super happy.

"There were many quality riders in our breakaway group. So I'm very happy to finish ahead of them and win the stage." - Ion Izagirre

"We came here with the Sueño Amarillo (yellow dream) but Froome was the strongest. At the end of the day, we're happy with a spot on the podium [Quintana third], a stage win and the teams' classification victory.” 

While Astana controlled the peloton for much of the stage, their leader Fabio Aru fell off the back of the peloton. This freed up Nibali to launch an attack from the pursuers with 18km to go. The Shark of Messina made contact with the leaders with 15.5kms left to race. 

Back in the bunch it was just Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) who tried something on the final climb in an attempt to shoot up the overall standings. But after gaining almost 20 seconds on the favourites, his efforts were too much and he was reigned back in. 

Now with just the procession into Paris remaining, overall leader Chris Froome (Sky) can breathe a sigh of relief. 

“I'm pretty sore, my knee and my back. But my legs were better today than after the crash. It's a huge relief to cross that finish line. The last 24 hours have been pretty chaotic but my team-mates helped me so much to keep the yellow jersey on my shoulders," he said. 

"It's an amazing feeling [to win the Tour]. It could be like the first one again.” 

Stage 20 Winners
Wout VAN AERT
Wout
VAN AERT
Kasper ASGREEN
Kasper
ASGREEN
Jonas VINGEGAARD
Jonas
VINGEGAARD
 

As it happened 

Frenchman Pierre Rolland (Cannondale), whose completion of yesterday's stage after a crash earned him hero status, attacked immediately after the neutral zone. His move was quickly shut down and five riders soon broke clear. But Rolland joined nine others who made it across to form a bigger group of 15 out the front at the ninth kilometre. 

The group of 15 included Rolland, Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida),  Sylvain Chavanel (Direct-Energie) and Michael Matthews (Orica-BikeExchange) and were joined a few kilometres later by usual breakaway suspects, Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha). 

The composition of the front group ballooned to 37 riders after Nibali drove the peloton down into the valley from the uncategorised Flumet bump which caused a split off the front, hooking onto the leaders just before the start of the of the Col des Aravis climb. 

The larger group now included Tinkoff duo Roman Kreuziger and Peter Sagan who hoped to shake up the overall classification with Kreuziger in 12th at nine minutes and 25 seconds behind Froome.

De Gendt peeled off the front to grab the category two Col des Aravis points and his advantage soon grew to 30 seconds on the descent but he was caught by a smaller group of riders off the breakaway. This bunch included Matthews and Sagan, the Slovakian allowing Matthews to go over the intermediate sprint line for the top money.

The two lead groups and de Gendt were all back together after 40km, now down to 30 riders. Proceedings remained this way until the descent of the category one Col de la Colombiere where the advantage over the peloton had increased to five minutes and 10 seconds. At that point, Kreuziger was virtually second overall. 

Izagirre (Movistar), Sergio Henao, Nibali, Sagan, Kreuziger, Costa, Pantano, Alaphilippe and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R) pulled clear on the drop into the valley and at 80km to go, had built a lead of 50 seconds on their former escapees and over six minutes on the peloton. 

Unpeeling from the lead group on the lower slopes of the category one Col de la Ramaz after Sagan's efforts for Kreuziger, Costa rejoined just before the World Champion sat up at 62km to go, his job done. Rolland also managed to make it back across.

With six kilometres to the Ramaz summit, first Nibali attacked but was caught and then Gougeard pulled clear for moments, the group then gapping him. De Gendt attacked with two kilometres to the summit and hit the 16km descent with a 31 second advantage on his pursuers. 

While Costa was next to attack his fellow breakaway companions, it was Pantano and Alaphilippe who caught and passed De Gendt. At 24km to go at the start of the Joux Plane, the pair had one minute and 30 seconds on Kreuziger's group and six minutes and 25 on the yellow jersey.  

Kreuziger ultimately failed in his attempt to move up to the podium but did improve to 10th overall.  

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