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23-second lead should do it for Froome in Tour

By Ian Parker

Chris Froome called the Tour de France his to lose as he heads into Saturday's penultimate time trial with a 23-second lead over Frenchman Romain Bardet.

Froome and the other contenders enjoyed a sedate stage 19 as the breakaway contested honours in Salon-de-Provence, where Froome's former team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen made up for being on the wrong side of two photo finishes by winning solo.

As the peloton eased over the line more than 12-and-a-half minutes later, attention quickly turned to Marseille, where Froome's rivals have one last chance to overhaul him in a 22.5 kilometre battle against the clock before Sunday's traditionally processional stage into Paris.

"It's my race to lose," Froome said. "I have to make sure I do everything right, follow the right processes and not have a bad day. I've got the legs, and hopefully everything else will be alright," he said.

A day after the final mountain test, the organisers threw the longest stage of the entire Tour at the riders as they rode 222.5km from Embrun.

Perhaps for that reason, Sky - in control of the peloton - allowed a 20-man breakaway to go more than 10 minutes up the road and settled in for a tranquil day. Froome even had time to high-five famous Tour fan Didi the Devil as they headed into Provence.

"It was cool seeing Didi out there, he's a legend of the Tour."

Belfast Telegraph

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