- Tour de France, Stage 19
Costa completes magical week, Froome retains lead
Movistar rider Rui Alberto Costa completed a memorable week by securing his second win in three days at the 2013 Tour de France, as Chris Froome retained his lead over main rival Alberto Contador after a gruelling Stage 19.
Froome began the day's ride between Le Bourg-d'Oisans to Le Grand-Bornan - a testing 204km course through the Alps which included the two 'hors categorie' climbs of Col du Glandon and Col de la Madeleine - at 1/20 with the bookmakers to win the 100th edition of the race.
Describing it as "possibly the toughest day of the Tour de France", Froome spent the majority of his time safely nestled in the peloton with his Team Sky team-mates.
On Thursday, the Brit extended his overall lead with a strong Stage 18 run, despite illegally taking food on the final climb of L'Alpe d'Huez in the closing kilometres - an infringement that would eventually cost him a £140 fine and a time penalty of 20 seconds.
Rain began to fall during the opening climb on Col du Glandon; if the steep rise was not enough concern for the riders, the thought of doing it in slippery conditions certainly was.
With King of the Mountains leader Froome already in yellow and second placed Nairo Quintana in white, Stage 18 winner Christophe Riblon donned the polka dot jersey on Friday.
Ryder Hesjedal was first over Glandon to collect the first of many points on offer, Quintana sweeping up as the first rider of the main group to break the summit.
Jack Bauer - no, not that one - had to withdraw after crashing on the descent, before Tom Veelers soon joined him in retiring from the race.
Pierre Rolland, who led the King of the Mountains classification earlier in the race, made his move up the 2000m Col de la Madeleine to catch leader Hesjedal - before reaching the summit first to collect the 25 points on offer, adding to his earlier haul of 12 points over the first climb. The duo crossed the top some 12 minutes ahead of the peloton.
Marcel Sieberg became the third abandonment of the day after tumbling on the descent of the Madeleine - meanwhile, Rolland creeped into a lead over Hesjedal, a breakaway group of around 30 riders and then the cautious peloton.
Frenchman Christophe Le Mevel was the fourth casualty of the day, saying no more during the feed zone. One man who did not look like stopping, however, was Rolland - stretching his lead over the Col de l'Epine to pick up another ten points.
Then came exactly what the riders must have been dreading - treacherous rain on the Col de la Croix Fry. The pace slowed, and Rolland was soon caught by Stage 16 winner Costa, who accelerated into a short lead.
Richie Porte became Froome's sole team-mate in the peloton as Saxo-Tinkoff controlled the pace for the Brit's rival Contador. Alejandro Valverde made a late move from the front, eager to catch team-mate Costa, who was already scything down the final descent towards the finish. Valverde was quickly swallowed up by the peloton again.
However, it was not to be as Costa powered away in the final few kilometres to take victory and end a marvellous week, with Froome rolling safely over the line some eight and a half minutes later.
Stage 19 result
1. Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 5hr 59mins 01secs
2. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard +48secs
3. Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard +1min 44secs
4. Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr +1min 52 secs
5. Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits +1min 55secs
6. Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol +1min 58secs
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team +2mins 03secs
8. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling +2mins 05secs
9. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi +2mins 16secs
10. Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar Team +2mins 44secs
General Classification after Stage 19
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Team Sky 77hr 10mins 00secs
2. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff +5mins 11secs
3. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team +5mins 32secs
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff +5mins 44secs
5. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha +5mins 58secs
6. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team +8mins 58secs
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team +9mins 33secs
8. Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits +12mins 33secs
9. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team +14mins 56secs
10. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step +16mins 08secs