Boasson Hagen wins Tour de France stage 19

Sunday, 23 Jul, 2017

Britain's Chris Froome effectively sealed his fourth Tour de France victory by extending his race lead on the penultimate stage of the race, won by Poland's Maciej Bodnar in Marseille.

"I certainly have a new-found appreciation for just how hard it was for those guys to have won five Tour titles. He does not have a lot of competition when it comes to time trials", LeMond, on the Tour as an analyst for Eurosport, said in his daily review with Reuters.

This was my closest Tour de France, the most hard-fought between the riders on GC.

After nearly three weeks on this Tour though, we've already lost quite a few sprinters.

His rivals are fast running out of opportunities to deny the Team Sky rider a third consecutive Tour crown after he conceded only four seconds on stage 18 to the top of the Col d'Izoard to keep a 23-second cushion over Frenchman Romain Bardet.

The 27-year-old former ski jumper is the first Slovenian to take a stage win in the race after breaking away from the likes of Serge Pauwels and Alberto Contador on the first day in the Alps. "I was feeling good today, then I was waiting for Froome's time because he is very good in time trials".

The peloton eventually rolled in at a leisurely place more than 12 minutes after Boasson Hagen claimed the first stage win for the Dimension Data team at this tour.

While not huge, his lead is sufficient to mean that he doesn't have to take unnecessary risks on the twisting and technical time-trial course in Marseille. Short, because usually the final time trial is upwards of 50km, but, in recent years, organisers have clearly sought to diminish the amount of time that can be gained and lost in a discipline that does not typically favour the out-and-out climbers.

Team Sunweb's Warren Barguil, in the polka dot jersey of the mountains classification victor, was awarded the "super combativity" prize for the most aggressive rider in this year's race.

The Tour de France is a lengthy multiple stage bike race held mostly in France (though it does occasionally take detours into neighbouring countries).

In theory, it should be a good day for the sprinters with a flat finish, but the lumpy terrain throughout most of the stage could encourage some dare-devils to go on a breakaway, with this the last chance for one to succeed all the way to the finish. I'll try to finish the Tour de France, which is already successful. Bardet squeaked his way onto the podium by a single second over Landa.

"I'm exhausted, I'm shattered", Bardet said.

"I'm speechless", Froome said.

French sprinter Arnaud Démare, victor of stage four, then finished outside the time limit on a mountainous stage nine, leaving Marcel Kittel to snatch five stage wins and don the green jersey.