Toronto Star

Froome survives Quintana’s last attack

- JOHN LEICESTER THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ALPE D’HUEZ, FRANCE— Chris Froome, in his words “dying a thousand deaths,” grimly hung on against a flying final attack from his main rival Nairo Quintana on the last Alpine climb on Saturday to virtually seal his second Tour de France victory in three years.

Quintana was outstandin­g on the final ascent to the Alpe d’Huez ski station in what was the Colombian’s last real opportunit­y to unseat Froome.

Piling on bursts of speed on the steep road teeming with frenzied spectators, the Movistar rider ate into the race lead that the Team Sky leader carefully pieced together over the previous 19 stages.

Thibaut Pinot won Stage 20, for the third French victory at this Tour. Victoria’s Ryder Hesjedal was third for the third time in his career, finishing 41 seconds behind Pinot. The Canadian, who rides for Team Cannondale-Garmin, is 40th in the overall classifica­tion.

But all eyes were on the battle for the overall race.

Lacking his usual explosive power, Froome gritted his teeth up the 21 hairpin bends as his advantage started to melt away, and he looked to limit the damage. Only at the end, in a final sprint, did Froome go top speed.

“I was dying a thousand deaths,” he said. “There was a moment where I thought this could go the other way.”

While Quintana closed the gap by one minute and 20 sconds, Froome still leads by 1:12. And with Sunday’s stage a largely ceremonial ride into Paris, that winning margin will be the smallest since Carlos Sastre beat Cadel Evans by 58 seconds in 2008.

Froome essentiall­y won this Tour in the second week, on the first big climbs in the Pyrenees. Quintana left himself too much to do on the last of four days in the Alps. Just as in 2013, he is set to finish runner-up again to Froome.

 ?? LAURENT CIPRIANI/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Chris Froome, in yellow, all but won the Tour de France Saturday despite “dying a thousand deaths.”
LAURENT CIPRIANI/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Chris Froome, in yellow, all but won the Tour de France Saturday despite “dying a thousand deaths.”

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