Froome takes another step toward Tour de France crown

Winless so far this season the maillot jaune will surely want to stamp his authority on the race today

Winless so far this season the maillot jaune will surely want to stamp his authority on the race today

Edvald Boasson Hagen ended a run of near-misses to take stage 19 of the Tour de France on an uneventful day for race leader Chris Froome who moved to the brink of overall victory on Friday.

Well, Froome's fourth win in the race sees him break clear of three-time champions Philippe Thys, Louison Bobet and Greg LeMond, leaving only four men boasting better Tour records than the Kenya-born rider - all on five victories.

The 32-year-old was the last rider to set off from the Stade Velodrome and retains the yellow jersey after extending his lead over Colombian Uran Rigoberto to 54 seconds ahead of Sunday's largely ceremonial final stage.

The one crumb of comfort for those desiring the yellow jersey Chris Froome will nearly certainly wear to Sunday's prize-giving in Paris is that the British rider says winning the Tour de France is getting harder.

Chris Froome ([2.50]), sixth in the opening time trial, but more suited by this effort, can go close. "And it has been so close throughout the race that it made a very tense race, so in that sense, it's been the most hard three weeks that we've raced".

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Froome did not win a single stage outright during the 2017 Tour but Team Sky general manager Dave Brailsford paid tribute to his fighting spirit as the reason behind his overall win.

Also, experiences like the one a year ago where he and five team mates were hit by a auto when out training in Spain - "we could all have died", he said at the time - ensure he has a grounded approach to life. I think that's what it's about, it's about having setbacks but getting back up and going on.

The logic would be the same place Bardet behind Uran, separated from the French by a difference of just 6 seconds.

Michal Kwiatkowski of Team Sky was second, one second behind his fellow Pole. He also won Stage 13 on Bastille Day.

With Tony Martin (Team Katusha) setting off early in the order on account of his low General Classifiction positon, expectation was for him to set the time to beat.

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"Going up the hill was a nightmare and not a moment I want to remember this year", Bardet told reporters. I was feeling good today in the race, then Kwiatkowski threatened me but didn't beat me. I really wanted to come here and take this jersey and to pull it off is absolutely fantastic.

"I have to treat it like any other time-trial that I've done before", he said.

Contador held his margin, taking 5th place in 28.36 at 21 seconds off Bodnar, an impressive showing but not enough to push him up the GC significantly.

"I'm delighted with winning again".

And Simon Yates homed in on the young riders' white jersey, a year after his twin brother Adam won it, as he maintained a lead of more than two minutes over Louis Meintjes.

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We'll never know whether Hinault could have gone on to more Tour victories but Froome is now the same age as the Frenchman was when he quit and shows no sign of slowing down.

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