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Froome extends overall lead in Tour de France

Martin left is more than two minutes off Froome the race leader

That podium could stick all the way to Paris on Sunday, as they both trail Froome by 27 seconds. I've already seen the time trial course.

The 32-year-old Froome said that he was expecting from day one that this year's Tour would be the biggest challenge of his career and the toughest fight.

"It's really fantastic. It's a dream for me".

This year, he won a mountain stage on the Tour but he recently insisted he did not have what it takes to win the general classification.

So that's what your legs could look like after peddling more than 1,700 miles in less than two weeks. This time, he couldn't afford to give up anything.

Two-time Tour victor Alberto Contador was also dropped, a day after his Trek-Segafredo sports director Steven de Jongh revealed this would be the Spaniard's final Tour.

"I'm pleased to get through the Alps without any problems this year, because it's always the Alps that I find the hardest", he said.

"After sixteen stages I think my legs look little exhausted", he noted dryly.

The victor of five bunch sprint stages in the race's first fortnight, Kittel looked certain to carry the green jersey of points leader all the way to Paris.

Another Frenchman in AG2R La Mondiale's Roman Bardet now lies 23sec adrift in second place overall after edging ahead of Froome to pick up four bonus seconds for finishing third on the day. Thus, the seconds Aru lost yesterday were very important.

Roglic, pictured below, attacked solo 6km from the summit of the Galibier, the second of two hors categorie climbs, and made it pay to deliver Slovenia's first Tour de France stage win. Meanwhile, things in the peloton took shape as Team Sky maintained control, protecting Froome well.

"And fifth place isn't something to be scoffed at".

Today's 183-kilometre stage from La Mure, the first of two days in the Alps, featured four categorised climbs - the Col d'Omont, the Col de la Croix de Fer, the Col du Telegraphe and the Col du Galibier.

The yellow jersey bearer finished fourth on Stage 18's mountain top finish in Izoard. I wasn't strong enough, there was quite a lot of wind about and I got tailed off towards the end.

Barguil, who had already sewn up the king of the mountains polkadot jersey earlier in the day, leapt above two-time former victor Alberto Contador into ninth overall.

"I tried to drop Uran and Bardet, but it was virtually impossible today".

"It's an exceptional day, I never have imagined I could win on the Izoard".

At one point on the twisting ribbon of tarmac to the summit finish Froome accelerated away from his GC rivals and opened up a gap before they hauled him back in.