Froome holds on to yel­low jersey as Costa wins 19th stage

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - BY JEROME PUG­MIRE

RUI COSTA won the moun­tain­ous 19th stage of the Tour de France with a solo break­away on the fi­nal climb, while Chris Froome stayed in yel­low as ex­pected at­tacks never ma­te­ri­alised yes­ter­day.

Costa se­cured his sec­ond stage win af­ter catch­ing French­man Pierre Roland about a quar­ter of the way up the fourth and fi­nal ma­jor as­cent of Col de la Croix Fry.

“A lot of Por­tuguese fans have sup­ported me through this Tour and I want to thank them,” Costa said.

Ger­man vet­eran An­dreas Kloe­den was sec­ond, 46 sec­onds be­hind, and Bel­gian Jan Bake­lants was 1: 44 back in third.

Froome and his main Tour ri­val Al­berto Con­ta­dor were still some dis­tance be­hind Por­tu­gal’s Costa when he clinched his third ca­reer Tour stage win.

Con­ta­dor was tipped to at­tack Froome on the long down­hill fin­ish, but per­haps be­cause of the rainy con­di­tions, the at­tack never came.

Froome and Con­ta­dor rolled over the line to­gether, sev­eral min­utes be­hind Costa, and Froome main­tained his lead of 5: 11 over the Spa­niard, be­com­ing the sec­ond Bri­tish rider to win the race af­ter Bradley Wig­gins last year.

He has only to­day’s 20th stage from An­necy to An­necySem­noz to claw back his large deficit to Froome, who will prob­a­bly look to stay safe so he can match Wig­gins’ feat to­mor­row.

Colom­bian climber Nairo Quin­tana is 5:32 be­hind in third over­all.

Froome was not at­tacked up the first of the two big HC climbs to Col du Glan­don. They are known as HC, Hors Cat­e­gorie, be­cause they are con­sid­ered so tough they are be­yond clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

Cana­dian Ry­der Hes­jedal and Spa­niard Jon Iza­guirre opened up a lead of more than seven min­utes over the yel­low jersey group once they went over the top of Glan­don.

As Hes­jedal and Iza­guirre reached the sec­ond HC of Col de Madeleine, the pelo­ton was 10 min­utes be­hind. Hes­jedal forged ahead be­fore be­ing caught and over­taken by French­man Pierre Rol­land.

The stage then un­du­lated through the val­leys and up sev­eral big hills, in­clud­ing the Cat­e­gory 1 climbs of Col de l’Epine and Col de la Croix Fry, then ended with a sharp de­scent to the ski re­sort of Le Grand Bor­nand.

Rol­land main­tained his lead up l’Epine – zoom­ing up the 7.3km in just un­der 19 min­utes.

The main pack was still about 10 min­utes back when Rol­land ap­proached the last climb. Three of Froome’s Sky team­mates found the go­ing too hard, how­ever. Peter Ken­naugh, Ian Stan­nard and Geraint Thomas drifted off.

Costa, who won Tues­day’s medium- moun­tain stage, charged af­ter Rol­land up Fry, a climb of about 11km.

De­spite his two stage wins, Costa is down in 24th place and 42:16 be­hind Froome.

Mean­while, Froome sat on Con­ta­dor’s wheel. The Spa­niard had Saxo- Tinkoff team­mates Michael Rogers and Ro­man Kreuziger to help him.

“There was a mo­ment when I wanted to at­tack and thought about it,” Con­ta­dor said, “but then I thought it was best to reach the fin­ish line with Ro­man.”– Sapa-AP


SOLO BREAK­AWAY: Rui Costa of Por­tu­gal cel­e­brates win­ning Stage 19 of the Tour de France from Bourg d’Oisans to Le Grand Bor­nand yes­ter­day.

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