Froome retains lead as Barguil triumphs in final Alps stage

Frenchman Romain Bardet, who finished second behind Froome in last year's race, cracked during the time trial, slipping to third overall after riding to within 23 seconds of Froome entering Saturday.

But he is widely regarded as a better time-trialist than both of those two and it would be a major shock were he not to sew up victory on Saturday.

After two energy-sapping days of climbs in the Alps, Froome and his rivals had their sights set instead on the time trial overnight in Marseille that was set to determine the podium order before the race ends in Paris tomorrow (New Zealand time).

"I had studied the route and I knew I had to go right in that last roundabout".

"It's the same as in Dusseldorf".

"I gave it my all", 2016 runner-up Bardet, who had set out to become France's first Tour victor since 1985, said.

"When I can push, I will push".

Of course, going the right way around one roundabout was only one ingredient in Boasson Hagen's victory. This was my closest Tour de France, the most hard-fought between the riders.

"There's nothing to think about. You just have to give it everything and not ask any questions", said the AG2R rider.

Barring a crash or a mechanical failure he will emerge into the Stade Velodrome with the yellow jersey secured for a third successive year, and his fourth in total, before Sunday's traditional Champagne ride into Paris. "That's something I would not have imagined it was possible".

"I'm expecting a royal battle, man to man, and to have no regrets".

Uran was far quicker than Bardet over the 22.5-kilometer (14-mile) stage, despite overshooting a left-hand bend before the stadium finish and ricocheting off barriers.

Having a time trial on the penultimate day was seen as Froome's trump card given his strength against the clock, and so it proved.

When the 30-year-old kicked again with less than three kilometres to go, Arndt was the only one to respond but the German could not keep up. "I rode this time trial with my head, not my legs", said Bardet. "I'm just grateful that it wasn't any worse because normally a bad day in the mountains you can lose three minutes".

Kazakh Alexey Lutsenko, part of a 50-strong breakaway group earlier in the day, crested the Col de Vars in the lead and was the first to attack on Izoard before he was caught by Atapuma with 6km remaining. It is something the team works really hard at developing things like our skin suits but I'll be in the organisational one.

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