Chris Froome glad to put Tour's mountain stages behind him

Yolanda Curtis
July 23, 2017

Edvald Boasson Hagen ended a run of near-misses to take stage 19 of the Tour de France on an uneventful day for race leader Chris Froome who moved to the brink of overall victory on Friday.

Bodnar, who was cruelly denied victory out of a breakaway on stage 11, completed the 22.5 kilometre course in a time of 28 minutes 15 seconds to win by just one second from his compatriot Kwiatkowski, with Froome a further five seconds back.

The one crumb of comfort for those desiring the yellow jersey Chris Froome will nearly certainly wear to Sunday's prize-giving in Paris is that the British rider says winning the Tour de France is getting harder.

Chris Froome ([2.50]), sixth in the opening time trial, but more suited by this effort, can go close.

"It's a three-week race and we rode it as such", he said.

Froome has a 23-second lead over Romain Bardet, and 29 seconds over third-placed Rigoberto Uran.

Since Bradley Wiggins became the first British victor of the most famous race in road cycling in 2012, Froome has established himself as the face of a period of dominance for Team Sky.

As a effect, Bardet moved a tiny bit closer to Froome overall, having been 27 seconds behind him at the start of the stage in Briancon.

When Kwiatkowski went within a second, Froome was watching on from the Sky team vehicle to gauge the best way to attack the course, largely flat except for the short, steep climb up to Notre-Dame de la Garde. Many speculated that he was not at his best, and those voices became louder after he lost 22 seconds and the yellow jersey to Fabio Aru on the stage to Peyragudes.

"It made me really proud of how the guys got up from adversity".

Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) finished 1:34 down on the stage, successfully defending his white best young rider jersey, leading Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) by 2:06.

He added that he felt his immune system starting to react after the last stage in the high Alps and "I didn't feel well this morning".

The large group of escapees broke clear early on in the 222.5 kilometres stage - the longest of this year's race - that started in the Alps before ending close to the Mediterranean. He seems to know his time is yet to come. "I won't take any big risks like in Duesseldorf, but when I can push, I will push".

But what makes it even more intriguing is the third factor in the race, Colombian Rigoberto Uran.

"After sixteen stages I think my legs look little tired" the cyclist posted on Instagram, alongside a photo of his veiny, sunburnt limbs.

We'll never know whether Hinault could have gone on to more Tour victories but Froome is now the same age as the Frenchman was when he quit and shows no sign of slowing down.

The time trial will begin and end in Marseille's Velodrome, with the 67,000-capacity football stadium returning to its cycling roots for the afternoon.

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