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Froome closes on third Tour de France crown with blistering TT

William Hill Tour de France promotionDEFENDING Tour de France champion Chris Froome is at the unbackable price of $1.01 at Sportsbet.com.au to pick up his third crown after a scintillating time trial overnight.

The Team Sky man won the 17km test from Sallanches to Megeve, obliterating the best time of Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) by 21 seconds.

There are just two official stages remaining and Froome has a seemingly unassailable overall lead of three minutes and 52 seconds on the second-placed Bauke Mollema.

Mollema may be the rider best placed on paper to challenge the champ going into the final stages of the tour, but WilliamHill.com.au is not giving the Dutchman much hope at all, placing him at a huge $201 quote to win the general classification.

Australian rider Richie Porte ($67) is the only man besides the leader who is not in triple figures.

Froome said he even surprised himself with his scorching time trail performance, but insisted there was plenty of work to do yet.

“I really didn’t expect to beat Tom (Dumoulin) today. I’m happy with that,” he said.

“I have a great advantage with two days to go. I keep the yellow jersey on my shoulders, but the next two days are really tough.

“The main thing for me is to stay out of trouble. I will not try to win a stage uphill.”

Despite Froome’s insistence that he will not overreach in order to rubber stamp his probable Tour win, Sportsbet has the defending champ as the $4.50 favourite to take out stage 19.

Ilnur Zakarin ($7) and Richie Porte ($8) are the only other men in single figures to take out the Albertville to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc leg.

The Kenyan-born Froome said his trial ride was a product of a sound technical strategy and astute equipment selection.

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“When I saw the course, I thought I’d ride with the road bike but after the team analysed it, we opted for a full TT set up,” he said.

“The other aspect was pacing. For all those who started too fast, it was easy to get carried away. I didn’t.”

The man Froome overcame believes he did not produce his best under pressure.

Dumoulin, who set the pace early, lamented a poor performance by his standards, but conceded the defending champion proved his quality.

“I think I didn’t ride my very best time trial,” he said

“Froome showed he was simply the best. In the very steep part in the beginning I felt good and performing well and then I lost lots of energy in the intermediate section.

“I spent a long time in the hot seat but I expected it would be very hard. I knew it would be close.”

The tour continues tonight on SBS from 8:30pm as the riders take on stage 19; the Albertville to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc course.

Stage 19 (Albertville – Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc) winner

Odds provided by Sportsbet.com.au

Chris Froome $4.50

Ilnur Zakarin $7

Richie Porte $8

Fabio Aru $11

Rafal Majka $13

Nairo Quintana $13

Romain Bardet $19

Pierre Rolland $19

Jarlinson Pantano $19

Vincenzo Nibali $21

Diego Rosa $34

Tejay Van Garderen $34

Adam Yates $34

Julian Alaphilippe $34

Daniel Navarro $41

Joaquin Rodriguez $41

Rui Costa $41

Warren Barguil $41

Alejandro Valverde $41

Stephen Cummings $51

Bauke Mollema $51

Wout Poels $51

Mikel Landa $67

Domenico Pozzovivo $67

Serge Pauwels $67

Daniel Martin $67

Alexis Vuillermoz $67

Sergio Henao $81

Tom Dumoulin $81

Wilco Kelderman $81

Thomas De Gendt $81

Winner Anacona $81

Louis Meintjes $101

2016 Tour de France overall winner

Odds provided by Sportsbet.com.au

Chris Froome $1.01

Richie Porte $67

Adam Yates $151

Nairo Quintana $151

Fabio Aru $151

Bauke Mollema $201

Romain Bardet $201

Alejandro Valverde $401

Warren Barguil $501

Louis Meintjes $501

Geraint Thomas $501

Daniel Martin $501

Joaquin Rodriguez $501

Roman Kreuziger $501

Sergio Henao $501

Tejay Van Garderen $501

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