Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won the 20th stage of the 2014 Tour de France with an emphatic time trial, while Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) put 45 seconds into Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) to leapfrog him into second overall.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished fourth and completed the stage without the dramatic incidents necessary for him to lose his overall lead, and will wear the yellow jersey into Paris tomorrow.
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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was unable to challenge the two French riders for their podium positions, and ultimately lost time to both of them.
The success of Peraud and Pinot make this the first Tour in 30 years to feature two French riders on the podium, and cap off what has been an excellent race for the home nation.
Less happy will be Romain Bardet (Ag2r), who lost his fifth place to Tejay van Garderen (BMC) by a mere two seconds. His frustration will be compounded by the fact that he suffered a puncture towards the end of the ride, without which he would almost certainly have held on.
His teammate Peraud also suffered a puncture early on in the course, but managed to regain his rhythm to finish an impressive seventh on the stage.
Ag2r may have suffered mechanicals, but Belkin endured the worst day of all, with their leaders Laurens Ten Dam and Bauke Mollema both posting poor times and slipping to ninth and 10th on the GC respectively, with Leopold Konig (NetApp) and Haimar Zubelidea (Trek) moving up to seventh and eighth.
Martin finished a huge 1-39 ahead of second place Tom Dumoulin (Giant) for the stage win – his second of the race – and his time never looked remotely under threat. Sky’s Danny Pate posted the early best time, leading for a while until Jan Barta (NetApp) bettered it.
But by the time Barta crossed the line, Martin was already posting best times at the intermediate checks and systematically catching his two-minute men. The German world time trial champion put 1-47 into Barta, and only Dumoulin managed to get any closer.
The only remaining British rider in the race, Geraint Thomas (Sky) finished 34th on the stage and sits in 22nd place overall.
Tour de France 2014, stage 20: Bergerac to Perigueux, 54km (ITT)
1. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step in 1-06-21
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 1-39
3. Jan Barta (Cze) NetApp-Endura at 1-47
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 1-58
5. Leopold Konig (Cze) NetApp-Endura at 2-02
6. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC at 2-08
7. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r at 2-27
8. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling at 2-36
9. Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek at 2-39
10. Daniel Oss (Ita) BCM at 2-58
34. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 5-01
Overall classification after stage 20
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana
2. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r at 7-52
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 8-24
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 9-55
5 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team at 11-44
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r at 11-46
7. Leopold Konig (Cze) NetApp-Endura at 14-41
8. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek at 18-12
9. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at 18-20
10. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 21-24
22. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 59-29