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July 19, 2013
Froome close to tasting Champagne as Tour winner

LE GRAND-BORNAND, France (AP) -- Chris Froome can already taste the champagne and has only one more day of climbing remaining before mounting the Champs-Elysees podium steps as Britain's second consecutive Tour de France winner.

The race leader preserved his comfortable five-minute-plus lead over two-time former champion Alberto Contador on Friday's rainy 19th stage featuring four big climbs and one hair-raisingly fast descent.

Rui Costa won it with a solo breakaway on the final ascent. Froome braced himself for a big Contador attack that never materialized on any of the climbs, nor in the long downhill to the finish line on increasingly wet roads.

"I certainly feel a big sigh of relief," Froome said. "Today was a day I was nervous about, happy to put it behind us."

(31 images)




The pack climbs towards Glandon pass during the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 204.5 kilometers (127.8 miles) with start in in Bourg-d'Oisans and finish in Le Grand-Bornand, France, Friday July 19 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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The pack speeds down Glandon pass during the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 204.5 kilometers (127.8 miles) with start in in Bourg-d'Oisans and finish in Le Grand-Bornand, France, Friday July 19 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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The pack with Michael Rogers of Australia, front, Roman Kreuziger of the Czech Republic, in second position, Spain's Alberto Contador in third position, and Bauke Mollema of The Netherlands, left in green, climbs la Croix Fry pass in a downpour during the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 204.5 kilometers (127.8 miles) with start in in Bourg-d'Oisans and finish in Le Grand-Bornand, France, Friday, July 19, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Christophe Riblon of France crosses the finish line to win the eighteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 172.5 kilometers (107.8 miles) with start in Gap and finish in Alpe-d'Huez, France, Thursday July 18, 2013. AP / Peter Dejong
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Stage winner Christophe Riblon of France climbs Alpe-d'Huez pass during the eighteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 172.5 kilometers (107.8 miles) with start in Gap and finish in Alpe-d'Huez, France, Thursday July 18, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Christopher Froome of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, Spain's Alberto Contador, Spain's Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Alexander Quintana of Colombia, wearing the best young rider's white jersey, from left to right, speed down Sarenne pass during the eighteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 172.5 kilometers (107.8 miles) with start in Gap and finish in Alpe-d'Huez, France, Thursday, July 18, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Spectators with the British flag run alongside Richie Porte of Australia, Christopher Froome of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain as they climb towards Alpe-d'Huez pass during the eighteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 172.5 kilometers (107.8 miles) with start in Gap and finish in Alpe-d'Huez, France, Thursday July 18, 2013. AP / Bernard Papon
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Stage winner and overall leader Chris Froome of Britain celebrates on the podium of the seventeenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race an individual time trial over 32 kilometers (20 miles) with start in Embrun and finish in Chorges, France, Wednesday July 17, 2013. AP / Laurent Rebours
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Stage winner Christopher Froome of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, passes lake Serre-Poncon during the seventeenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race an individual time trial over 32 kilometers (20 miles) with start in Embrun and finish in Chorges, France, Wednesday July 17, 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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The pack with Christopher Froome of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, passes through Meouge canyon during the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 168 kilometers (105 miles) with start in in Vaison-la-Romaine and finish in Gap, France, Tuesday July 16, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Christopher Froome of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and Spain's Alberto Contador, right, speed down manse pass in the last kilometers of the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 168 kilometers (105 miles) with start in in Vaison-la-Romaine and finish in Gap, France, Tuesday July 16, 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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Spain's Alejandro Valverde leads ahead of Richie Porte of Australia, Roman Kreuziger of the Czech Republic, Christopher Froome of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and Spain's Alberto Contador, as they climb Manse pass during the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 168 kilometers (105 miles) with start in in Vaison-la-Romaine and finish in Gap, France, Tuesday July 16, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Overall leader Christopher Froome of Britain celebrates as he crosses the finish line of the fifteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 242.5 kilometers (150.7 miles) with start in in Givors and finish on the summit of Mont Ventoux pass, France, Sunday July 14, 2013. The riders will climb to an altitude of 1912 meters (6,273 Feet) as they tackle Mont Ventoux pass at the end of the longest stage of the 100th Tour de France edition. AP / Peter Dejong
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Stage winner Christopher Froome of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, climbs in the last 100 meters of the Mont Ventoux pass during the fifteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 242.5 kilometers (150.7 miles) with start in in Givors and finish on the summit of Mont Ventoux pass, France, Sunday July 14, 2013. The riders climbed to an altitude of 1912 meters (6,273 Feet) tackling Mont Ventoux pass at the end of the longest stage of the 100th Tour de France edition. AP / Laurent Rebours
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British fans cheers as Christopher Froome of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, left, passes with the pack during the fourteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 191 kilometers (119.4 miles) with start in in Saint-Pourcain-sur-Sioule and finish in Lyon, central France, Saturday July 13 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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The pack with Christopher Froome of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, crosses the finish line of the fourteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 191 kilometers (119.4 miles) with start in in Saint-Pourcain-sur-Sioule and finish in Lyon, central France, Saturday July 13 2013. AP / Laurent Rebours
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Spain's Alberto Contador, center, grimaces as he rides with his teammates during the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Team Belkin with Bauke Mollema of The Netherlands in fourth position, leads the breakaway group during the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 173 kilometers (108.1 miles) with start in in Tours and finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, western France, Friday July 12 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Spectators watch the start of the twelfth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 218 kilometers (136.2 miles) with start in in Fougeres and finish in Tours, western France, Thursday July 11 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Marcel Kittel of Germany, front, crosses the finish line ahead of Mark Cavendish of Britain, rear, to win the twelfth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 218 kilometers (136.2 miles) with start in in Fougeres and finish in Tours, western France, Thursday July 11 2013. AP / Peter Dejong
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Beads of sweat pour down as Tony Martin of Germany strains during the eleventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial over 33 kilometers (20.6 miles) with start in in Avranches and finish in Mont-Saint-Michel, western France, Wednesday July 10 2013. AP / Laurent Rebours
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Britain's Chris Froome passes world heritage site Mont-Saint-Michel, rear, a rocky tidal island which holds a monastery, during the eleventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial over 33 kilometers (20.6 miles) with start in in Avranches and finish in Mont-Saint-Michel, western France, Wednesday July 10 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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Stage winner Marcel Kittel of Germany, third right right in white jersey, sprints towards the finish line in the last 200 meters to win ahead of second place Andre Greipel of Germany, left, third place Mark Cavendish of Britain, second right, and fourth place Peter Sagan of Slovakia, far right in the best sprinter's green jersey, during the tenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 197 kilometers (123.1 miles) with start in in Saint-Gildas-des-Bois and finish in Saint-Malo, Brittany region, western France, Tuesday July 9 2013. AP / Peter Dejong
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Spectators on a tank watch as the pack passes the Special Military School of Saint-Cyr near Guer during the tenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 197 kilometers (123.1 miles) with start in in Saint-Gildas-des-Bois and finish in Saint-Malo, Brittany region, western France, Tuesday July 9 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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The pack passes during the tenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 197 kilometers (123.1 miles) with start in in Saint-Gildas-des-Bois and finish in Saint-Malo, Brittany region, western France, Tuesday July 9 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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The pack passes the Atlantic Sea coast during the tenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 197 kilometers (123.1 miles) with start in in Saint-Gildas-des-Bois and finish in Saint-Malo, Brittany region, western France, Tuesday July 9 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Christopher Froome of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and Nairo Alexander Quintana of Colombia, wearing the best young rider's white jersey, in third position, speed down Val Louron-Azet pass during the ninth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 168.5 kilometers (105.3 miles) with start in Saint-Girons and finish in Bagneres-de-Bigorre, Pyrenees region, France, Sunday July 7 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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New overall leader Christopher Froome of Britain crosses the finish line to win the eight stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 195 kilometers (122 miles) with start in Castres and finish in Ax 3 Domaines, Pyrenees region, France, Saturday July 6 2013. AP / Laurent Rebours
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Peter Kennaugh of Britain, Vasili Kiryienka of Belarus, and Richie Porte of Australia, set the pace for Christopher Froome of Britain, in fourth position, as they climb snow-covered Pailheres pass during stage eight of the Tour de France cycling race over 195 kilometers (122 miles) with start in Castres and finish in Ax 3 Domaines, Pyrenees region, France, Saturday July 6 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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New overall leader Christopher Froome of Britain, left, climbs Pailheres pass followed by Spain's Alejandro Valverde during the eight stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 195 kilometers (122 miles) with start in Castres and finish in Ax 3 Domaines, Pyrenees region, France, Saturday July 6 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Two spectators with a sign in Dutch reading "Mama it is good here" run after Nairo Alexander Quintana of Colombia as he climbs towards Ax 3 Domaines during the eight stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 195 kilometers (122 miles) with start in Castres and finish in Ax 3 Domaines, Pyrenees region, France, Saturday July 6 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani

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