Chris Froome closes in on fourth Tour de France title, Warren Barguil wins stage 18

Chris Froome is relieved to have gotten the final mountain stage of this year's Tour de France out of the way Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Chris Froome was happy to put the mountains behind him as he closed in on a fourth Tour de France title.

His rivals are fast running out of opportunities to deny the Team Sky rider a third consecutive Tour crown after he conceded only four seconds on stage 18 to the top of the Col d'Izoard to keep a 23-second cushion over Frenchman Romain Bardet.

With a relatively flat stage on Friday to Salon-de-Provence -- where the only apparent danger is the slight chance of crosswinds late in the day -- before a time trial in Marseille which should suit the 32-year-old, Froome is odds on to be in yellow in Paris once again.

Froome might be renowned for his abilities when the road ramps up, but that did not mean he was not relieved to have survived the most dangerous days on the Tour.

"The Alps have always been really tough for me," he said. "I always tend to have a bad day in the Alps so it was nice to get through them feeling good, and I'm looking forward to the time trial now."

Warren Barguil won the stage -- his second of the Tour -- and, barring accident or illness, wrapped up the king of the mountains classification in the process as he simply needs to complete the race to keep the polka dot jersey.

But it was the battle a little further back which demanded the most attention.

Bardet and Froome both put in attacks against each other before the AG2R La Mondiale rider just pipped Froome to take third place and four bonus seconds.

That put Bardet in sole possession of second place with Colombian Rigoberto Uran dropping back to third, 29 seconds down.

Yet it is the Cannondale-Drapac rider who Froome sees as his biggest threat with the time trial still looming.

"Just having a look at the general classification, it's still very close with the top three still within 30 seconds," Froome said.

"At this point, Rigoberto Uran, given his ability in the time trial, would certainly seem to be my biggest threat, but there are still three days of racing left so anything could happen.

"We'll just keep giving everything we can to stay in front and hopefully get this jersey to Paris."