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Tour de France: Chris Froome extends lead by winning stage 18

Chris Froome, Tour de France, stage 18
Image: Chris Froome won stage 18 by 21 seconds

Chris Froome took another huge step towards Tour de France victory by extending his overall lead with an outstanding win on stage 18's individual time trial.

The Team Sky rider stopped the clock on a mostly uphill 17km course in 30min 43sec, which was 21 seconds faster than runner-up Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) and far ahead of all of his rivals for the yellow jersey.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) finished 1min 10sec down, Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) was 1min 23sec adrift and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) was 1min 25sec off the pace.

Chris Froome, Tour de France, stage 18
Image: Froome extended his overall lead to 3min 52sec

It means Froome's overall lead over second-placed Mollema grows from 2min 27sec to 3min 52sec, while third-placed Yates is now 4min 16sec down and fourth-placed Quintana is 4min 37sec back.

With just two mountain stages and a flat finale remaining, it now appears that only a crash or a dramatic loss of form can deny Froome a third Tour triumph in Paris on Sunday.

Froome: No need to go on attack
Froome: No need to go on attack

Tour leader will not chase wins on remaining stages

He said: "I really didn't expect to beat Tom today. I think pacing was key today. I really started off quite steady and really controlled that first part, and then just gave it everything I had over the last part. I'm really happy with that."

Stage 18 began in Sallanches in the Alps with 4km of flat but then climbed for the next 11km and ended with a 2km descent to the finish in Megeve.

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Tom Dumoulin, Tour de France, stage 18
Image: Tom Dumoulin was faster than Froome in the first half of the course but then faded

The amount of climbing led many riders to use standard road bikes, including Mollema and Richie Porte (BMC Racing), but both Froome and Dumoulin opted to use time trial bikes and it proved to be an inspired choice.

The race leader initially looked to be off colour after reaching the 6.5km split 23 seconds down on Porte, 14 seconds behind Dumoulin and 13 seconds slower than Yates.

Tour de France standings
Tour de France standings

Top 10s in the general, points, mountains and youth classifications

But while his rivals then began to burn out after their fast starts, Froome maintained his pace and had moved 13 seconds ahead of Dumoulin and 22 seconds in front of Porte by the 13.5km split.

He continued to pull away in the last 3.5km and crossed the line a comfortable winner after a perfectly planned and expertly executed ride.

Great Britain's Adam Yates, wearing the best young's white jersey, crosses the finish line at the end of the 17 km individual time-trial, the eighteenth st
Image: Adam Yates started strongly but wilted in the closing kilometres

Of the other overall contenders, Mollema and Quintana both started poorly and couldn't recover, while Yates began brilliantly but faded badly and consequently saw his cushion over fourth place reduced to 21 seconds.

The Tour continues on Friday with a 146km 19th stage that starts in Albertville and ends with a category-one summit finish at Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc. Find out more about the route in our race guide and follow all the action with our live blog from 12pm BST.

Stage 18 result

1 Chris Frooome (GB) Team Sky, 30:43
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin, +21sec
3 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, +33
4 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, same time
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +42
6 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal, +1:02
7 Ion Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, +1:03
8 Joaquim Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha, +1:05
9 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre-Merida, +1:08
10 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +1:10
Selected others
16 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-BikeExchange, +1:23
17 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, +1:25

General classification

1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 77:55:53
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, +3:52
3 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-BikeExchange, +4:16
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +4:37
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +4:57
6 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, +5:00
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, +6:08
8 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, +6:37
9 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre-Merida, +7:15
10 Dan Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step, +7:18

Yates: Tough to stay on podium
Yates: Tough to stay on podium

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