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Tour de France: Chris Froome all but seals victory on stage 20

Chris Froome, Tour de France, stage 20
Image: Chris Froome will win the Tour de France for the third time on Sunday

Chris Froome will be crowned winner of the 2016 Tour de France in Paris on Sunday after defending his overall lead on a rain-soaked 20th stage in the Alps.

The 31-year-old Briton finished just behind his closest challengers in Morzine after torrential downpours and strong pace-setting by his Team Sky team-mates made it virtually impossible for his rivals to attack him.

Froome now leads second-placed Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) by 4min 5sec at the top of the general classification and will seal the third Tour victory of his career as long as he avoids crashing on a largely processional final stage into Paris.

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Nairo Quintana (Movistar) will end the race 4min 21sec down in third place, while 23-year-old Briton Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) will finish 4min 42sec adrift in fourth after an outstanding three weeks of racing in which he has announced him as a potential Tour winner of the future.

Froome will join Greg LeMond, Louison Bobet and Philippe Thys as one of only four three-time winners of the Tour and will become just the eighth rider in history to have won cycling's most prestigious race more than twice.

Chris Froome, Tour de France, stage 21
Image: Froome crossed the line with his team-mates in pouring rain

He also extends Team Sky's domination of the Tour by handing them their fourth victory in five years, while Yates will finish top of the youth classification to ensure British riders take home two of the four jerseys on offer.

Stage 20 was won by breakaway rider Ion Izagirre (Movistar) after a daring descent to the finish line from the last of the 146.5km day's four climbs, the super-category Col de Joux Plane.

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The Spaniard crested the summit alongside Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) and looked the least likely of three to win, but despite pouring rain and the road being drenched, he tore into one of the fastest and most feared descents in cycling to win by 19 seconds.

Izagirre said: "There were many quality riders in our breakaway group, so we are very happy to finish ahead of them and win the stage. Beating Nibali in a downhill is something that counts in a career. I'm super happy."

Chris Froome, Tour de France, stage 20
Image: Froome tiptoed his way down the descent of the Col de Joux Plane

Back in the peloton, Froome went into the day with a 4min 11sec lead over Bardet and consequently focused solely on defending the yellow jersey in the treacherous conditions.

His Team Sky team-mates set a fierce pace up the Joux Plane in a bid to deter attacks from rivals, who were further put off by the lethal road surfaces and seemed content instead to consolidate their general classification positions.

Ion Izagirre, Tour de France, stage 20
Image: Breakaway rider Ion Izagirre won the stage after a brilliant descent

Bardet, Quintana, Yates and Dan Martin (Etixx - Quick-Step) did eventually accelerate in the final 300m, but Froome's triumph was already all but secured and he was happy to finish six seconds behind them alongside all of his team-mates.

There was movement further down the top 10, however. Fabio Aru (Astana) lost 13 minutes and dropped from sixth to 13th overall after major collapse at the bottom of the Joux Plane, while Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) climbed from 11th to seventh overall after being the only rider bold enough to attack on the final climb.

The Tour concludes on Sunday with a 113km 21st stage from Chantilly to Paris. Find out more about the route in our race guide and follow the action with our live blog from 3pm BST.

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Stage 20 result

1 Ion Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, 4:06:45
2 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM Cycling, +19sec
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +42
4 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step, +49
5 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, +1:43
6 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff, +1:44
7 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, +1:49
8 Joaquim Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha, +3:24
9 Dan Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step, +4:12
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, same time
Selected others
11 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, st
13 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-BikeExchange, st
20 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +4:18

General classification

1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 86:21:40
2 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +4:05
3 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +4:21
4 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-BikeExchange, +4:42
5 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, +5:17
6 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, +6:16
7 Joaquim Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha, +6:58
8 Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre-Merida, +6:58
9 Dan Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step, +7:04
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff, +7:11

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