Chris Froome all but wrapped up a third consecutive Tour de France triumph as he outpaced his rivals in the penultimate-day time trial won by Maciej Bodnar on Saturday.
Froome ready for Paris procession
Last to go, the Team Sky rider was the third quickest of the 167 to tackle the 22.5-km course that started and finished in Marseille's Velodrome soccer stadium -- extending his lead to 54 seconds going into Sunday's ceremonial ride into Paris.
Providing Froome avoids any calamities on the 103-km trek from Montgeron to the capital he will take his Tour haul to four in the last five years -- one behind cycling greats Miguel Indurain of Spain, Belgian's Eddy Merckx and Frenchmen Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil.
Froome, 32, goes on to the Tour honour roll as the first person to win three times in a row since Indurain who was unbeatable between 1991-95. American Lance Armstrong won seven Tour titles from 1999-2005 but was later stripped of them for doping.
Home favourite Bardet slips further
After surviving this week's Alpine stages Froome arrived in the historic French port with a slender 23-second lead over France's Romain Bardet but with perfect weather conditions there were no scares as he produced a scorching ride to finish only six seconds behind Pole Bodnar.
Michal Kwiatkowski of Team Sky was second, one second behind his fellow Pole.
Bardet was roared on by huge crowds on a course that looped around the Vieux Port but he struggled terribly on the steep hill towards the Basilica Notre-Dame and was almost caught by a charging Froome despite the Briton starting two minutes later.
Bardet was only 52nd quickest in the time trial but remained one second ahead of Spain's Mikel Landa in third place in the overall standings. Colombian Rigoberto Uran hit a barrier but moved above Bardet into second place.
|1||Maciej Bodnar POL||BOH||28:15|
|2||Michal Kwiatkowski POL||SKY||+ 00:01|
|3||Chris Froome GBR||SKY||+ 00:06|
|4||Tony Martin GER||KAT||+ 00:14|
|5||Daryl Impey RSA||ORS||+ 00:20|
|6||Alberto Contador ESP||TFR||+ 00:21|
|7||Nikias Arndt GER||SUN||+ 00:28|
|8||Rigoberto Uran COL||TCG||+ 00:31|
|9||Stefan Küng SUI||BMC||+ 00:34|
|10||Sylvain Chavanel FRA||DEN||+ 00:37|