Froome poised to win Tour after Quintana attack
By Julien Pretot
L'ALPE D'HUEZ, France (Reuters) - Chris Froome is poised to win a second Tour de France title after being forced to hang on desperately as Colombian Nairo Quintana attacked relentlessly in Saturday's penultimate stage up the iconic Alpe d'Huez.
In a gripping finale, Quintana powered clear of Froome and sliced almost a minute and a half off the Briton's lead, but he could not do quite enough to prevent the Team Sky rider from almost certainly celebrating victory on Sunday.
With only the procession into Paris remaining, Froome, who appeared to be spat at by a fan for the second day running, leads Quintana by 1:12 after the Movistar rider attacked repeatedly and pushed the 30-year-old to the limit in a punishing ascent.
The day's laurels went to Frenchman Thibaut Pinot, who salvaged an under-par Tour with victory on the race's 'Queen Stage'.
Spain's Alejandro Valverde is third, 5:25 off the pace.
Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali of Italy is fourth while twice Tour winner Alberto Contador, attempting a rare Giro d'Italia/Tour double, is fifth after a below-par run in the mountains.
Quintana was second in the 110-km stage from Modane-Valfrejus, 18 seconds behind Pinot, with Canadian Ryder Hesjedal taking third place 41 seconds adrift.
Froome, who could not respond when Quintana attacked less than four kilometres into the 13.8-km ascent, ended the stage in fifth place, 1:38 off the pace after being helped to the summit by team mate Richie Porte. Continued...