Reigning Yellow Jersey holder Chris Froome all but sealed his third Tour de France triumph and a second in successive years by winning stage 18 on Thursday (21 July). The remarkably dominant Team Sky juggernaut has once again controlled cycling's most prestigious event in relentless fashion and further showcased his superiority by emerging victorious from an exhausting 17km uphill Alpine time trial from Sallanches to the ski resort of Megeve.
Froome completed the challenge in a time of 30:43, beating the mark set by Team Giant-Alpecin specialist Tom Dumoulin, himself a two-time stage winner after individual successes in La Caverne du Pont-d'Arc and the mountains of Andorra, by 21 seconds.
The result saw him extend his general classification lead over nearest challenger Bauke Mollema to three minutes and 52 seconds with just three days remaining. Fellow Briton Adam Yates remains in third, with key rival Nairo Quintana fourth and over four and a half minutes off the pace.
"I really didn't expect to beat Tom Dumoulin," Kenyan-born Froome said in a brief interview afterwards. "Pacing was key. I started steady and controlled the first part and then really went for it over the top. I'm really happy with that."
Such a victory means that British riders have now equalled their best ever performance at the Tour. Froome, inexplicably forced to tackle a portion of Mont Ventoux on foot last week after a crash, executed a devastating if unconventional downhill attack in the Pyrenees spa town of Bagneres-de-Luchon to win stage eight and take the race lead from Greg van Avermaet.
The race now stays in the Alps for two more days, with Friday promising a tough and mountainous 146km grind from Albertville to Saint-Gervais-Mont Blanc. Riders then face a fourth consecutive climbing stage from Megeve to Morzine before proceedings finish with the usual procession into Paris and the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.