ANNECY-SEMNOZ, France - Chris Froome has two hands firmly on the Tour de France trophy. All that remains is for the British rider to raise it above his head in Paris today.
The Team Sky rider retained his big lead Saturday and is set to become Britain's second successive champion after Bradley Wiggins. Only an accident or other freak mishap today on the largely ceremonial final ride to the Champs-Elysees could stop Froome from winning the 100th Tour.
"It's been an amazing journey for me, the race has been a fight every single day," Froome said.
Froome, who rarely looked in trouble in the three-week race, finished third Saturday in a dramatic Stage 20 to the ski station of Annecy-Semnoz in the Alps that decided the final podium placings.
Nairo Quintana from Colombia won the stage and moved up to second overall. Joaquim Rodriguez from Spain rode in 18 seconds behind Quintana and moved up to third overall. Froome is more than five minutes ahead of both.
Froome said only when he passed the sign showing two kilometers (about a mile) to go on the final steep uphill did he allow himself to celebrate a bit.
"It actually became quite hard to concentrate," he said. "A very emotional feeling."
Alberto Contador, who was second overall at the start of the day, struggled on that climb and dropped off the podium.
Quintana's win in his first Tour also secured him the polka-dot jersey as the best climber. He also retained the white jersey as the Tour's best young rider. The 23-year-old wiped away tears in his stage winner's news conference.
"It was fabulous," he said after winning on his national independence day. "It's a very special day in Colombia. A big party."
With six miles still to ascend on the last and toughest of the day's six climbs, Froome left Contador gasping with a turn of speed. Froome, Rodriguez and Quintana then rode as a trio, leaving Contador behind to place seventh in the stage, 2:00 behind Quintana.
• What: Stage 21, final stage, Versailles to Paris Champs-Élysées
• When: 8:30 a.m.
• TV: NBC Sports Network