Froome closing in on Tour victory

Chris Froome produced another faultless performance to win the Tour de France's stage 18 uphill time trial on Thursday.

Dutch time trial champion Tom Dumoulin came closest to beating the defending champion in the 17km race to Mègeve, but even he finished a full 21 seconds back in second place.

Astana’s Fabio Aru was third, a further four seconds back.

“I really didn’t expect to beat Tom today,” Froome said afterwards. “I think pacing, pacing was key today. I really started off quite steady and controlled that first part and gave it everything I had over the last part.”

Froome now leads by close to four minutes overall with just three stages remaining, and it will take a minor miracle – or a major disaster – to prevent him from going on to win the race.

Behind the Briton, the race for second and third tightened up, as Aru and Richie Porte, who finished fourth on the day, closed the gap on third-placed Adam Yates and second-placed Bauke Mollema in the overall standings.

Yates and Mollema could only finish in 16th and 17th place respectively.

Nairo Quintana still remains in fourth place overall after a 10th place on the day, followed by Romain Bardet, who placed a solid fifth, with Porte and Aru now breathing down their neck.

Stage 18 results

1. Christopher Froome (TEAM SKY) in 30:43
2. Tom Dumoulin (TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN) at :21
3. Fabio Aru (ASTANA PRO TEAM) at :33
4. Richie Porte (BMC RACING TEAM) at :33
5. Romain Bardet (AG2R LA MONDIALE) at :42
6. Thomas De Gendt (LOTTO SOUDAL) at 1:02
7. Jon Izagirre (MOVISTAR TEAM) at 1:03
8. Joaquim Rodríguez (TEAM KATUSHA) at 1:05
9. Louis Meintjes (LAMPRE – MERIDA) at 1:08
10. Nairo Quintana (MOVISTAR TEAM) at 1:10

General classification after stage 18

1. Christopher Froome (TEAM SKY) in 77:55:53
2. Bauke Mollema (TREK – SEGAFREDO) at 3:52
3. Adam Yates (ORICA – BIKEEXCHANGE) at :24
4. Nairo Quintana (MOVISTAR TEAM) at :45
5. Romain Bardet (AG2R LA MONDIALE) at 1:05
6. Richie Porte (BMC RACING TEAM) at 1:08
7. Fabio Aru (ASTANA PRO TEAM) at 2:16
8. Alejandro Valverde (MOVISTAR TEAM) at 2:45
9. Louis Meintjes (LAMPRE – MERIDA) at 3:23
10. Daniel Martin (ETIXX – QUICK STEP) at 3:26