• Chris Froome (Sky) had a lot to smile about at the end of Stage 20 (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The rain-soaked smile on Chris Froome’s face said it all as he crossed the finish line of the penultimate stage of the Tour de France and retained a general classification lead that all but guarantees his third consecutive title.
Cycling Central

Team Sky
24 Jul 2016 - 6:51 AM  UPDATED 24 Jul 2016 - 7:10 AM

Froome was flanked by his Sky team-mates across the entire 146km mountain test, ticking off four categorised climbs and descents to set up a triumphant run into Paris tonight.

The yellow jersey began the day patched up after his crash on Friday but looked comfortable in the Alps, finishing off the day with the soaking wet and technical descent off the Col de Joux Plane. Safe passage now sets up Sky for an incredible fourth Tour de France victory.

"It's a huge relief to cross that finish line," said Froome after the stage. "The last 24 hours have been pretty chaotic but my team-mates helped me so much to keep the yellow jersey on my shoulders. It's an amazing feeling.

"I'm pretty sore, my knee and my back, but my legs were better today than yesterday after the crash. I had that four minutes gap to play with. It gave me a breathing space. I just had to stay in front. It could be like the first one again.

"It was a tough day out there, rain on and off, tricky descents and a tricky finish there, so it was such a good feeling crossing that final finish line."

Sky controlled almost the entire Alpine test, with Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard setting the early pace, while Sergio Henao pushed on up the road to monitor a big-name breakaway.

Finishing alongside Wout Poels, Geraint Thomas, Mikel Nieve and Henao, Froome heads into the French capital with a lead of four minutes and five seconds over Romain Bardet (AG2R).

After Henao had dropped back to help his leader on the final climb, the battle up front raged for the stage victory. Ion Izagirre (Movistar) dug deep on the hors categorie climb to put himself in a winning position, 19 seconds ahead of Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling).

stage 20 report
Izagirre shines for Movistar in the Morzine rain
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.

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