Portuguese cyclist Rui Costa won the mountainous 19th stage of the Tour de France with a solo breakaway on the final climb, while Britain’s Chris Froome stayed in yellow as expected attacks never materialized today.
Costa secured his second stage win of the race 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 through a translator.
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.
The 204.5-kilometers (127-mile) trek featured two HC climbs and two Category 1 ascents between Bourg-d’Oisans and Le Grand-Bornand in the snow-capped peaks of the Alps.
Contador was tipped to attack Froome on the long downhill finish, but perhaps because of the rainy conditions, the attack never came.
Froome will be formally crowned Tour de France champion in Paris tomorrow, barring disaster in tonight’s final alpine stage in Annecy.
And, only two years after the greatest achievement of his glittering career, 2011 champion Cadel Evans will suffer his worst Tour result after finishing 155th on stage 18. For the third time in as many stages the Victorian leaked an unlikely chunk of time – 35min 24sec – to tumble to 36th overall. In eight previous Tour campaigns, Evans has finished 8th, 4th, 2nd, 2nd, 30th, 28th, first and seventh, with his two worst previous results the consequence of injury and illness. It is now abundantly clear his third place in the Giro d’Italia sapped the 36-year-old of the necessary strength to succeed again at the Tour. (AP)