Los Angeles Times
TOUR DE FRANCE
Stage 19: The pack faced four climbs — including the Croix de Fer pass, one of the hardest ascents in cycling — and an uphill finish Friday at the La Toussuire ski station in a 138-kilometer (86-mile) course from St.-Jean-de-Maurienne.
Winner: Vincenzo Nibali of Italy. The defending Tour champion sped away from a group of race leaders and overtook breakaway riders with an impressive 16-kilometer (10-mile) solo effort up the final climb.
Yellow jersey: Chris Froome. The Kenya-born Briton limited the damage from Nairo Quintana and maintains a 2-minute 38-second lead over the broad-smiling Colombian who is second overall. How did the “Fab Four” perform? Desperately seeking to get back into contention, Quintana sped ahead of Froome in the final climb and erased 32 seconds of his deficit to the British race leader — though it may be too little, too late to capture overall victory. Nibali’s solo effort vaulted him from seventh to fourth overall, leapfrogging two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador in the process. The Spaniard finished 2:26 back of the Sicilian.
Quote of the day: “I told him exactly what I thought of him.” — Froome, referring to Nibali after he sped ahead when the British leader had a mechanical malfunction on the Croix de Fer — in his view a breach of cycling etiquette, which confers respect and a bit of deference on the yellow-jersey bearer when he runs into unforeseen technical problems or crashes.
Stat of the day: 84. The number of seconds that Nibali erased from his deficit to Froome in the title quest thanks in part to a few bonus seconds he gained from the stage victory.
Next stage: The piece de resistance of this year’s Tour comes in the penultimate 20th stage Saturday, as the pack covers 110.5 kilometers (68.6 miles) from Modane Valfrejus back over the Croix de Fer pass and a finish up the fabled Alpe d’Huez that features 21 switchbacks and often-boisterous crowds.