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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Froome tightens his grip on Tour with two stages to go

The Sky rider was happy to see former colleague Edvald Boasson Hagen win the 19th stage as none of his competitors threatened to challenge him

The end in Paris on Sunday is in sight for the peloton, seen here in action on Friday's 19th stage. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
The end in Paris on Sunday is in sight for the peloton, seen here in action on Friday's 19th stage. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Chris Froome’s grip on this year’s Tour de France became ever tighter after the 19th stage of the race saw his former teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen win the final stage in the Alps.

The Norwegian, who was edged out in a photo finish by Marcel Kittel on the seventh stage, was part of a 20-man breakaway but made a winning solo bid inside the final 3km as Nikias Arndt came second and Jens Keukeleire third.

“I'm so happy, it worked out really well. I didn't have to do the photo finish this time, so it's really good,” said Boasson Hagen.

It was his third Tour stage win following another two in 2011 when riding for Froome's Sky team.

And it came about after he and Arndt stole a march on their breakaway rivals by going around the shorter side of a roundabout.

“I'd been looking through the video (of the stage) before and I knew the right side of this one was shorter,” the 30-year-old said of the roundabout around 3km from the finish.

“Nikias made an attack and I followed him. Then when I did a final attack he wasn't able to follow, so I'm really happy.”

Sky’s Froome kept hold of the race leader's yellow jersey ahead of Saturday's decisive time-trial in Marseille after a leisurely stroll in the saddle for the peloton.

Frenchman Romain Bardet remains second at 23sec with Rigoberto Uran of Colombia third at 29sec.

“Tomorrow's a day where you have to leave everything on the road,” said Froome.

“It's still all to race for, there's still 30 seconds between the top three in GC -- the race is still very much on.”

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