The final climb of the Tour, the one to Cret de Chatillon on the Semnoz above Annecy, proved a decisive one as attacking right from the start of it created big timegaps in the end. With lots of placings behind the supreme Froome in play the action was always going to be tense and the stage didn't disappoint. Sky set a hard pace already on the shallow early slopes before Movistar used both their star riders Costa and Valverde on the early steep sections to cause a brutal selection with all but the biggest names getting fired out the back of the field.
With the group of bigs crystallized, Rodriguez was first to launch an attack which was then brutally countered on by Chris Froome who for a moment looked as strong as on Ax3 and Mont Ventoux but his pace stabilized and Quintana and Rodriguez were able to join him up front. Contador was distanced at this point and clearly struggling. He had a 48 second lead to Rodriguez going into the stage to hang onto the third spot on the podium but it soon became apparent that he would not be able to limit his loss to that, despite his teammate Kreuziger fighting back to pace him up the climb.
Once the leading trio came within two kilometers of the finish Froome was first to open the hostilities. Quintana hesitated for a second before closing the gap to the brit with ease while Rodriguez, who had been at the front working hard to build a gap to Contador, took a little longer to join. The killer strike then came from Quintana who put in his attack with a little over a km to go leaving the other two permanently behind. Rodriguez mad a late dash to grab second but Quintana had already secured the KOM points to win that competition and rolled across the line with a rare smile to take the stage win.
The big losers of the day were Saxo-Tinkoff who dropped from 2&4th to 4-5th in the GC and it was clear early that they had little to defend themselves with as Quintana and Roriguez poached the podium places. Michal Kwiatkowski also struggled and dropped out of the top ten with Andrew Talansky of Garmin-Sharp riding away from him on the stage where he finished a strong 6th. Kwiatkowski finished a further 1:36 down in 18th place.
Bauke Mollema who started the race strongly but faded in the last stages as he succumbed to illness and was sitting in 6th place at the start of the day rode all the climb together with Jacob Fuglsang who was his nearest rival in 7th and they both retained their positions that way. Alejandro Valverde rode strongly even after working hard for Quintana early and he overtook Daniel Navarro in the GC to finish in 8th place 16 minutes behind the winner. Ten of those minutes he lost in the crosswinds on the stage to Saint Amand Montrond.
The climbers competition was the the one jersey left in contention and Pierre Rolland made a valiant attempt to go out in the breakaway to siphon up enough point to take the jersey but with the field maintaining a strong pace behind and never allowing the break much room his quest was clearly in vain and it was to be decided by Froome and Quintana in the group of favorites. Quintana's attack easily claimed the big KOM points and the twenty-three year old thereby comes away from the race with both the climbers and the Young riders jersey.
Tomorrows stage is the traditional procession / sprint on the Champs Elysée where Cavendish, Kittel and Greipel will have one last chance to determine who is the strongest. Cavendish has an impressive streak and will try and take a fifth straight win as the Tour de France ends with a late evening circuit race that will see the riders take a special route around the Arc de Triomphe. It promises to be a spectacular finish to what has been an exceptional 100th Edition of the race.
Top 10 on stage 20:
|1.||QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander||128||MOVISTAR TEAM||03h 39' 04''|
|2.||RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin||101||KATUSHA TEAM||03h 39' 22''||+ 00' 18''|
|3.||FROOME Christopher||1||SKY PROCYCLING||03h 39' 33''||+ 00' 29''|
|4.||VALVERDE Alejandro||121||MOVISTAR TEAM||03h 40' 46''||+ 01' 42''|
|5.||PORTE Richie||6||SKY PROCYCLING||03h 41' 21''||+ 02' 17''|
|6.||TALANSKY Andrew||178||GARMIN - SHARP||03h 41' 31''||+ 02' 27''|
|7.||CONTADOR Alberto||91||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||03h 41' 32''||+ 02' 28''|
|8.||GADRET John||86||AG2R LA MONDIALE||03h 41' 52''||+ 02' 48''|
|9.||HERNANDEZ BLAZQUEZ Jesus||93||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||03h 41' 59''||+ 02' 55''|
|10.||KREUZIGER Roman||94||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||03h 41' 59''||+ 02' 55''|
|1.||FROOME Christopher||1||SKY PROCYCLING||80h 49' 33''|
|2.||QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander||128||MOVISTAR TEAM||80h 54' 36''||+ 05' 03''|
|3.||RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin||101||KATUSHA TEAM||80h 55' 20''||+ 05' 47''|
|4.||CONTADOR Alberto||91||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||80h 56' 43''||+ 07' 10''|
|5.||KREUZIGER Roman||94||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||80h 57' 43''||+ 08' 10''|
|6.||MOLLEMA Bauke||164||BELKIN PRO CYCLING||81h 01' 58''||+ 12' 25''|
|7.||FUGLSANG Jakob||63||ASTANA PRO TEAM||81h 02' 33''||+ 13' 00''|
|8.||VALVERDE Alejandro||121||MOVISTAR TEAM||81h 05' 42''||+ 16' 09''|
|9.||NAVARRO Daniel||139||COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS||81h 06' 08''||+ 16' 35''|
|10.||TALANSKY Andrew||178||GARMIN - SHARP||81h 07' 55''||+ 18' 22''|
|1.||SAGAN Peter||11||CANNONDALE||383 pts|
|2.||CAVENDISH Mark||151||OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP||282 pts|
|3.||GREIPEL André||24||LOTTO-BELISOL||232 pts|
|1.||QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander||128||MOVISTAR TEAM||147 pts|
|2.||FROOME Christopher||1||SKY PROCYCLING||136 pts|
|3.||ROLLAND Pierre||51||TEAM EUROPCAR||119 pts|
Young rider Competition:
|1.||QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander||128||MOVISTAR TEAM||80h 54' 36''|
|2.||TALANSKY Andrew||178||GARMIN - SHARP||81h 07' 55''||+ 13' 19''|
|3.||KWIATKOWSKI Michal||153||OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP||81h 09' 15''||+ 14' 39''|