Froome bulletproof in Tour de France final showdown

Nairo Quintana finished off one of the most sensational Tour de France debuts of recent years when he won the final mountain stage at Annecy Semnoz. Away at the front with just race leader Chris Froome and Joaquim Rodríguez for company, the 23-year-old Colombian responded to an attack from Froome just outside the final kilometre, then produced an acceleration of his own that neither of his rivals could follow.

Approaching the line, Quintana's poker face finally broke into the widest of smiles. He threw his arms wide to celebrate a victory that not only secured him the white jersey of best young rider, but also moved up him up to second place overall as Alberto Contador finished more than two minutes back, dropping to fourth overall behind his compatriot Rodríguez. Fittingly, Quintana's summit victory and hugely impressive performance in the Pyrenees and Alps over the past fortnight also earned him the King of the Mountains jersey on what is his country's national day.

Quintana was overjoyed to have won and taken second place overall. "It's an incredible win for me. It's difficult to understand what has happened. I'm very, very happy for what happened today and during all the Tour," he said.

"We controlled the attacks on the climb and were sure that we'd be able to do what our DS had planned out for us. This is a special day for me and for Colombia. This is for everyone in Colombia: my family and all my friends, who have helped me so much. I want to thank everyone in Colombia."

The other big winner on the day was yellow jersey Froome. His Team Sky teammates kept the Briton out of trouble all day, then seized the initiative approaching the final climb. Their pace-making thinned out the yellow jersey group very rapidly on the first ramps up towards Semnoz. Froome then produced a surge of his own that proved too much for Contador, and never looked to be in any trouble until well inside the final kilometre. He gave a thumbs-up as he crossed the line, the Tour de France now all but won.

"I can't quite believe this is happening, that I'm sitting here in this position. It's amazing. I'm sorry, but I'm lost for words," said Froome after he stepped down from the podium. "Obviously we've still got to roll into Paris, but that's the GC side of it pretty much sorted. Finishing like this has been very special."

Asked about his thoughts going into the final few kilometres of the stage, Froome confessed: "It was quite hard to stay on top of it. When we reached 3km to go I knew I had accomplished what I had been aiming for. After that I was just trying to stay in the wheels, although I was struggling a bit to do that."

Joaquim Rodriguez was disappointed not to win the stage but is going to celebrate his third place overall in Paris. He now has a full set of Grand Tour podium places.

"The podium is a great achievement, I'm very happy: not a lot of riders managed to enter the top-three of all the big stage races," Rodriguez said.

"I look forward to celebrate tomorrow, with my family and my friends. Today I felt in a great shape: maybe if only Froome helped me in the last climb and leaded us from time to time, I would have saved some energies and I could have fought for the stage victory. But never mind, the podium was the most important thing, so I'm happy like this."

How it happened

Predictions that the stage would be packed with attacking moves from the GC contenders from the off proved wrong, although one instantly recognisable rider did all he could to pull off the most unlikely of coups. Jens Voigt, 41 years young and riding his 16th and possibly final Tour de France, was in the break that went on the approach to the first climb, the second-category Côte du Puget. With the RadioShack veteran were Marcus Burghardt (BMC), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil) and Pierre Rolland (Europcar), who was hoping to take the mountains title by sweeping up points on the five climbs that preceded the final ascent to Semnoz.

Rolland led over that summit. Following it, another small group of riders got across the stage leader. Among them was Euskaltel's Igor Antón, who challenged the Frenchman for top points on the subsequent third-cats, the Col de Leschaux, Côte d'Aillon-le-Vieux and Col des Prés. Antón led over the first and Rolland the second. Antón looked set to take the points on the third of them until Rolland switched suddenly into his path, forcing the Basque to take evasive action in order to avoid riding into fans at the roadside.

A rematch would have been interesting, but Voigt prevented that by pushing up the pace on the front of the breakaway group, which quickly disintegrated behind the German. He crossed Mont Revard with a lead of 90 seconds and extended that lead by another minute as he dropped into the valley beyond.

Van Garderen has a go

BMC's world champion Philippe Gilbert and teammate Tejay van Garderen jumped away from the peloton in pursuit of the remnants of the lead group. Once with Rolland, Antón and several others, Gilbert gave all he had to reduce Voigt's advantage in order to set up van Garderen for an assault on the final climb. However, after Sky took over the pacemaking in the main peloton approaching the foot of the climb to Semnoz, this group was rapidly reeled in.

Voigt's advantage had been cut to 43 seconds as he led onto the final 10.7km ascent. The German managed to hold off the peloton for a couple of kilometres, but eventually yielded with 8.5km remaining, as Richie Porte led a much-reduced yellow jersey group past him. Moments later, Rodríguez made the first dig from this group. Quintana responded, as did Froome, who went to the front of the group, then set his legs whirring furiously with an attack of his own, which proved too much for Contador.

Rodríguez and Froome did most of the pace making thereafter, the Spaniard determined to wrest at least third place on the podium, the Briton simply wanting to keep his two remaining rivals in check. The trio stayed together until Froome attacked just short of the one-kilometre kite. Quintana eased up to the Briton in an instant. Then he was off, fast and smooth, towards victory and what looks likely to be a very glittering future. 

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team3:39:04
2Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha0:00:18
3Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling0:00:29
4Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team0:01:42
5Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling0:02:17
6Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp0:02:27
7Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:02:28
8John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:02:48
9Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:02:55
10Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
11Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:01
12Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:22
13Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:03:24
14Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha
15Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard0:03:51
16Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:03:56
17Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
18Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:04:03
19Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:04:31
20Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Sojasun0:04:36
21Andy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack Leopard0:04:50
22Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard
23Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:05:33
24Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Lampre-Merida0:05:40
25Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:05:58
26Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr0:06:11
27Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:06:33
28Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:06:42
29Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
30Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
31Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
32Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack Leopard0:07:08
33Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:07:25
34Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Sojasun0:07:27
35Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:07:50
36Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:08:39
37Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:08:59
38Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar
39Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar
40Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
41Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar0:09:18
42Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard0:09:24
43Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge0:09:33
44Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Sojasun0:09:43
45Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:10:56
46Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:11:36
47Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun0:11:40
48Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra)
49Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol
50Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
51Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano0:11:59
52Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha0:12:13
53David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky Procycling0:12:44
54Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard0:13:00
55Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
56Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team0:13:30
57Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky Procycling0:13:37
58David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar0:14:09
59Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp0:14:14
60Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack Leopard0:14:22
61Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr0:14:30
62Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:16:47
63Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
64Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
65Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
66Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha
67Romain Sicard (Fra) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:16:49
68Frederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:18:26
69Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
70Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
71Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
72Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
73Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team
74Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team
75Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano
76Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
77Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar Team
78Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
79Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
80Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha
81Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol
82Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida
83Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida
84Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida
85Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp
86Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team
87Laurent Didier (Lux) RadioShack Leopard
88Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
89Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol
90Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
91Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar
92Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar
93Julien El Fares (Fra) Sojasun
94Maxime Mederel (Fra) Sojasun
95Brice Feillu (Fra) Sojasun
96Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
97Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp
98Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
99Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
100Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
101Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
102Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling0:18:35
103Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team
104Jérémy Roy (Fra)
105Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
106Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky Procycling
107Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:19:38
108Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Katusha0:19:55
109Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:20:04
110Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
111Brian Vandborg (Den) Cannondale Pro Cycling
112Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
113Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:20:17
114Jerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar
115Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team0:20:19
116Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:20:30
117Daniele Bennati (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:20:36
118Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr0:20:42
119Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra)
120Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar0:21:26
121Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:22:01
122Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:23:32
123Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
124Thomas Leezer (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:23:39
125Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:24:10
126Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling
127Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team