LARUNS, France (AP) — Geraint Thomas increased his hold on the yellow jersey in the final mountain stage of the Tour de France on Friday, while Sky teammate and four-time champion Chris Froome lost his spot on the podium.
Slovenian rider Primoz Roglic won the 125-mile 19th leg through the Pyrenees with an attack on the dangerous descent from the Col d’Aubisque.
A former ski jumper who rides for Team Lotto NL-Jumbo, Roglic finished 19 seconds ahead of Thomas, with Romain Bardet of France crossing third with the same time.
“I had legs today,” Roglic said. “I really tried a lot of times and finally I went away on the descent.”
With the help of a six-second bonus for finishing second in the stage, Thomas increased his lead over Tom Dumoulin to 2 minutes, 5 seconds.
Roglic leapfrogged Froome into third spot overall, 2:24 off the pace, while the British rider now trails by 2:37.
Dumoulin finished sixth in the stage and Froome eighth, both with the same time as Thomas.
One key stage remains — a 19-mile time trial through the Basque country on Saturday (5:50 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold, and 7 a.m., NBCSN) — before the mostly ceremonial finish in Paris on Sunday.
“It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow. I’m really knackered,” Thomas said. “I’m still trying not to get carried away.”
Froome initially fell behind on the climb up the Aubisque before latching back onto the lead group on the descent.
It was Roglic’s second Tour victory, having claimed Stage 17 in the Alps last year.
Roglic, who also excels at time trials, showed courage on a twisty descent made more difficult by clouds and fog hanging over the Aubisque.
When the road allowed, he crouched down on to his bike frame in a risky aerodynamic move known as “super tucking.”
Dumoulin accused the stage winner of ‘drafting’ behind a motorbike.
“Roglic was the strongest today, and a lot of respect for his victory. But he was flying downhill, and eventually I got dropped on a straight part just because he was on his tube and full in the slipstream of the motorbike,” Dumoulin said.
Roglic rejected the accusation.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I don’t have influence on that. We all have the same possibilities to go the first one down. I didn’t notice anything unusual.”
The route through the pilgrimage town of Lourdes to Laruns took the peloton over three legendary climbs — the Col d’Aspin, the Col du Tourmalet and the Aubisque — before the dive down to the finish.
Mountain classifications leader Julian Alaphilippe was first over the Aspin and Tourmalet as part of an early breakaway.
Mikel Landa and Bardet then attacked from the yellow jersey group up the Tourmalet and joined the leaders before Roglic, Thomas and Dumoulin took over on the final climb.
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