But several riders are trying to stretch the peloton to breaking point. Can the teams of the sprinters control this or will a break go clear?

Froome's injuries were superficial in comparison, but the rips in his jersey and shorts showed the extent of the slide he took after his front wheel hit a white painted line on the road.

When the riders reached Paris the race became competitive for nine 6.8km laps of the city centre which culminated in a bunch sprint on the Champs-Elysees, which Greipel won for the second time in his career.

The French Football Federation has upheld Nîmes Olympique's appeal against their administrative relegation to the third division, opting instead for an eight-point penalty in next season's Ligue 2 season.

Team Sky's Froome finished 21 seconds ahead of Dutchman Tom Dumoulin to win the hilly 17km stage in 30 minutes and 43 seconds, with Fabio Aru third.

But Cavendish, who rides for Team Dimension Data based in South Africa, will not risk jeopardising his fitness before next month's Rio Olympics, where he will represent Great Britain on the track.

However, his good work was nearly undone on the Bastille Day ascent of Mont Ventoux when he crashed into the back of rival Richie Porte, who had collided with a motorbike. With his own bike unusable and a replacement on his team car several minutes away, the race leader began running up the mountain before taking a bike from a neutral support car.

"There was no surprise because Chris Froome won. But for me it was not the same as in previous years," he said.

On commentary Rob Hayles is suggesting that Mont Ventoux may be completely cut from the race. He explains that it's not just the riders who have to get up there, there are fans and media to consider, not to mention the Tour 'village'. 

An extraordinary break. The gap is up to a dozen seconds. A brief lapse in concentration from the Movistar riders means Nairo Quintana could well be losing time here.

Into the final kilo and the leaders are just 14 seconds clear. Geraint Thomas burying himself on the front. He steps aside and Chris Froome goes full gas. He's looking at Peter Sagan.

He rode clear of fellow breakaway riders Jarlinson Pantano of the IAM Cycling team and 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali to win the 146km stage in four hours, six minutes and 45 seconds.

Tinkoff's Rafal Majka, meanwhile, took an unassailable lead in the race for the king of the mountains polka dot jersey.

Frenchman Bardet finished six seconds ahead of Froome to cement second place, while Quintana, who said he "suffered from allergies" during the race, will finish third.

Froome, who crashed on a rainy descent on Friday, was more cautious on Saturday's drop into Morzine and finished more than four minutes behind Izaguirre but only a few seconds adrift of his rivals in the overall standings.

Les alliés du jour ! / Friends of the day! #TDF2016

The stage started in Sallanches and featured an 11km section where the race ascended almost 700m from 566m to 1,279m before a technical descent into the finish in Megeve.

Froome's lead over Romain Bardet of four minutes five seconds will not be tested on the final stage in Paris.

"Any opportunity I can see I'm going to take it.

The Trek Segafredo man's fall on one descent meant he finished over four minutes behind AG2R's Bardet and is now 10th overall, seven minutes and 42 seconds behind Froome.

Fabian Cancellara is among those pushing on and the peloton is being strung out. Chris Froome is out of his saddle stomping on his pedals. Geraint Thomas is trying to hold on to his coat-tails.

That injection of pace saw the main split that has seen two groups formed. One is almost one minute behind the group containing all the favourites.

The leading television commentator in France was a former rider, Robert Chapatte. At first he was the only commentator. He was joined in following seasons by an analyst for the mountain stages and by a commentator following the competitors by motorcycle.

"I hope I can be back next year to fight for it again."

Tours stands on the lower reaches of the River Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. The surrounding district, the traditional province of Touraine, is known for its wines, for the alleged perfection (as perceived by some speakers and for historical reasons) of its local spoken French, and for the Battle of Tours (732). The city is also the end-point of the annual Paris–Tours cycle race.

In 2015 Chris Froome won his second Tour de France after triumphing in 2013. In 2015 he was dominant almost throughout the race while Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was his closest challenger, finishing second overall at 1:12. The Colombian’s teammate Alejandro Valverde finished third overall while the 2014 Tour de France champion, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) could only manage fourth overall. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) finished fifth after winning the Giro d’Italia in May.

Cavendish, riding for Team Dimension Data, won a sprint finish ahead of Alexander Kristoff and Peter Sagan.

Yates not only won the race for the best rider under the age of 25, he also finished fourth overall in only his second Tour.

"I started off steady and really controlled that first part then gave it everything I had."

The 23-year-old Orica BikeExchange racer impressed in the mountains and was second for six stages and third for six more before dropping to fourth on stage 19.

German Kittel, 28, riding for Etixx - Quick-Step, angrily waved an arm in the air as Cavendish swept past him, indicating he felt his rival had moved into his racing line.

Yates briefly looked like he was going to significantly close the 26-second gap he started the stage behind Mollema when he erased 25 seconds in the opening 6.5km.

Tours

And just as I typed that... race director Christian Prudhomme has made the call to can the summit finish at Mont Ventoux.

He took the race lead after an unexpected attack on the descent into the finish at Bagneres de Luchon on stage eight and extended his lead with a similarly surprising attack in crosswinds with Sagan on stage 11.

Stay in Bordeaux, the world's wine capital. Or come with us to Beaune, a picturesque, walled-city where you’ll have the opportunity to sample the Burgundy wines in an authentic wine-maker's cellar.

Some great data from how Team Sky decided to close that break down a few minutes back.

"Then there's a rest day four days before Paris so I may as well try. I've said I'm not going to put myself over the edge so if I get sick or fall off I won't, but I'm in good shape, the team's in good morale so I'll carry on as long as I can."

Froome, who finished six seconds clear of the peloton, collected a six-second bonus for his second-place finish.

Two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador, who had targeted his entire season around this race, crashed on the opening two stages and eventually abandoned on stage nine after falling ill.

Andre Greipel won the final stage of the 2016 Tour de France as Chris Froome crossed the line arm-in-arm with his Team Sky team-mates to confirm his third Tour title.