Tour de France leader Chris Froome (Sky) was put under pressure from his overall rivals for the first time in the 2015 race on Friday, with defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) taking the stage 19 victory and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) finishing ahead of the Briton.
The mountainous stage from St-Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire saw Team Sky’s resources seemingly stretched to their limit, with Geraint Thomas finishing the stage 22 minutes behind Nibali to lose his place in the overall top 10.
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Nibali was the first to attack, making a long-range move to catch lone leader Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and make a solo ascent of the final climb to La Toussuire. Quintana then attacked with around 5km to go. Froome attempted to follow, with the result that Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) were both distanced.
In the end, Froome only lost around half a minute to Quintana, who now trails the Sky leader by two minutes and 38 seconds overall.
Nibali’s move ensured that he moved up the general classification, leap-frogging Contador to end the day in fourth place overall as Contador slips to fifth. Valverde hung on to his third place.
Saturday’s final stage in the Alps concludes the ‘proper’ racing in the 2015 Tour, which concludes in Paris on Sunday.
Overall classification after stage 19
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 78-37-34
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 2-38
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 5-25
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 6-44
5. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo at 7-56
6. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 8-55
7. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 12-39
8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing at 13-22
9. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r at 14-08
10. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar at 17-27
15. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky at 27-24