MARSEILLE, France — The Latest on the Tour de France time trial in Marseille (all times local):
All riders have now set off in the Marseille time trial.
Wearing the yellow skinsuit designed for him by Tour de France organizers, leader Chris Froome was the last to go down the ramp in the Stade Velodrome, amid some whistles and boo’s.
Froome has a 23-second lead over Romain Bardet, and 29 seconds over third-placed Rigoberto Uran.
Best known for his climbing skills, Rigoberto Uran is also a very solid rider against the clock.
Only 29 seconds separate the Colombian rider from Chris Froome in the general classification. So, will he be able create surprise all pundits at the Velodrome to dethrone his British rival?
Past statistics suggest it’s possible:
In 2014, Uran won a time trial at the Giro and finished second behind Tony Martin of a 36.7-kilometer time trial at the Vuelta the same year. That day, he beat Chris Foome by 77 seconds… Upset brewing?
Although the Stade Velodrome remained half empty mid-afternoon, there is a special atmosphere in this time trial because it’s being held in a soccer stadium.
Nearly every rider so far has been treated to big roars from the crowd as they sprinted to the finish line after the final bend.
The Tour returned to Marseille for the eighth time since 1967, but it’s the first time in 50 years that the Velodrome has hosted the race.
Only the start and finish take place inside the Velodrome, with the rest of the course taking riders on urban roads in downtown Marseille.
An interesting stat provided by Tour organizers.
Over the past 30 years, the yellow jersey has changed four times when a time trial is being held in the last few days of the three-week race
In 1987, Stephen Roche took the coveted tunic from Pedro Delgado in Dijon. The Tour closest finish was in 1989, when Greg LeMond defeated Laurent Fignon by the smallest ever margin, 8 seconds, after the Frenchman cracked in the race against the clock on the Champs Elysees.
In 1990, Greg LeMond also took advantage of the final time trial to beat Claudio Chiappucci at Lac de Vassivière and, in 2011, Cadel Evans took the jersey from Andy Schleck in Grenoble.
Now, let’s see if Romain Bardet can create an upset and dethrone Froome at the Velodrome.
Time trial world champion Tony Martin has missed out on the best provisional time by 14 seconds.
Martin went all out on the Marseille roads and was spotted lying on the ground, his jersey wide open, after the brutal effort.
The German rider said “I’m disappointed not to have the best time at least when I finished. The race is over.”
Maciej Bodnar of Poland holds the new provisional best, in 28:15.
Chris Froome will be wearing a bespoke skinsuit during the Tour de France’s final time trial.
Tour organizers said tailors working with race sponsor Le Coq Sportif met with Froome at his hotel on Friday evening to take his measurements, in order to make a fitting skinsuit.
The yellow skinsuit provided by organizers does not include the aerodynamic vortex technology that created controversy in the opening time trial in Duesseldorf.
Team Sky riders used the technology in Germany and angered some of their rivals who argued it was not legal. Cycling’s governing body ultimately said the textured patterns on the skinsuit could be used.
Asked by local broadcaster France Televisions about the time trial course, Taylor Phinney said it will suit Chris Froome because it is fast and features a tricky ascent: a short but steep climb to Notre-Dame de la Garde cathedral.
“It’s a good TT for Chris Froome. He’ll be able to get on good speed on the flat. In the climb, he’ll take a lot of time on people like me. He’s 15 kilos lighter,” Phinney said.
American Taylor Phinney has posted the best provisional time in the Marseille time trial, in 29 minutes and 21 seconds.
Phinney, a former pursuit specialist whose career was almost ended by a crash three years ago, has been competing in his first Tour this month.
Phinney rides for the same Cannondale-Drapac team as Rigoberto Uran and will now be able to give his team leader some precious advice on the fast route.
The riders are setting of in reverse order according to their placing in the general classification. Last-placed Luke Rowe, a teammate of Chris Froome at Team Sky, has been the first to go down the starting ramp at the Stade Velodrome.
Froome, who holds a 23-second lead over Romain Bardet, will be the last to start at 5:04 p.m.
Defending champion Chris Froome looks to seal his fourth Tour de France title in a time trial in Marseille, the penultimate stage of this year’s race.
The Team Sky leader has a 23-second lead over Romain Bardet and is better than his French rival in the race against the clock.
A good time trialist, Rigoberto Uran is six seconds further back in third place and could overtake Bardet in the general classification ahead of Sunday’s parade to the Champs Elysees.
Marseille’s Stade Velodrome will stage the start and finish of the 22.5-kilometer (14-mile) time trial. The challenging route with more than two dozen bends will take riders on mainly flat urban roads. The main difficulty comes with a short but steep climb to Notre-Dame de la Garde cathedral, the most famous landmark in France’s second-largest city.