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Chris Froome closes in on grand slam at Giro d’Italia
Chris Froome is set to complete a grand slam of Grand Tour titles, and take his tally to six overall, after all but ensuring his status at the Giro d’Italia’s first British winner.
The Team Sky rider held off a spirited series of attacks from defending champion Tom Dumoulin on stage 20 from Susa, retaining the pink jersey and stretching his lead to 46 seconds.
The 33-year-old need only negotiate the largely ceremonial demands of Sunday’s stage in Rome to add the Giro to his victories in the Vuelta a Espana and the Tour de France, becoming just the third man to hold all three titles simultaneously.
Eddy Merckx, in 1973, and Bernard Hinault nine years later are the only other’s to match Froome’s mastery of the general classification.
Froome appeared to be barely in contention a matter of days ago, but moved into the lead on Friday, when he made an audacious solo charge from 80km out on the mountainous stage from Venaria Reale to Bardonecchia.
It was a monumental effort which propelled him from three minutes and 22 seconds off the lead to the frontrunner by 40 seconds.
Dumoulin made several game but unsuccessful attempts at leaving Froome behind and ended up accepting his fate in the final phase of racing.
“It’s just an amazing feeling, could you see that outcome coming?” he told Eurosport 1.
“That’s what it’s all about, making people dream. If you want to achieve something, you’ve got to believe in it first. I had this huge goal to try and achieve and I think once you really believe in it you’re 90 per cent of the way there.
“It has been such a brutal race, absolutely brutal, but it has been a beautiful, beautiful event.”