Portugal's Costa wins second Tour stage

17:29, Jul 19 2013
Marcel Kittel
Marcel Kittel reacts as he crosses the line to win the first stage of the Tour de France.
Marcel Kittel
First stage winner Marcel Kittel (left) is congratulated by team-mate John Degenkolb.
Tour de France
The peleton sets out at the start of the first stage.
Tour de France
Riders at the front of the peleton head up a rise.
Tour de France
The peleton begins stage one in Porto Vecchio.
Tour de France
Riders head past a beach in Porto Vecchio on the island of Corsica.
Alberto Contador
Alberto Contador of Spain rides with his Saxo-Tinkoff team.
Tour de France bus
The Orica-Greenedge team bus collides with the finishing banner prior to the race arriving at the end of stage one.
Jan Bakelants gallery
Jan Bakelants of Belgium and Radioshack Leopard celebrates on the podium as he wears the yellow jersey after winning stage two.
Tour de France gallery
Cycling jerseys are hung in a line to greet cyclists in the city of Corte during the156 km second stage of the centenary Tour de France cycling race from Bastia to Ajaccio.
Tour de France gallery
The peloton rides through the countryside during stage two of the 2013 Tour de France, a 156KM road stage from Bastia to Ajaccio.
Tour de France gallery
The pack of riders cycles on its way during the 156 km second stage of the centenary Tour de France cycling race from Bastia to Ajaccio, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica.
Jan Bakelants gallery
Jan Bakelants of Belgium and Radioshack Leopard crosses the finishing line to win stage two.
Orica GreenEdge
Orica GreenEdge riders head along the Promenade de Anglais during the team time-trial during stage four of the Tour de France.
Saxo Tinkoff
Saxo Tinkoff riders compete in stage four in Nice.
Nice beach
Riders head along Promenade de Anglais in Nice.
Team Garmin-Sharp
Team Garmin-Sharp rides compete in the 25km team time-trial fourth stage.
Team Lotto Belisol
Team Lotto Belisol head around the streets of Nice, in the south of France.
Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish celebrates as he crosses the line to win stage five of the 100th Tour de France.
Ted King
Cannondale rider Ted King speaks to reporters after Tour de France organisers pulled him from the race.
Chris Froome
Chris Froome leads Team Sky at the front of the peloton during the fifth stage.
Simon Gerrans
Simon Gerrans has the number on his back fixed by an Orica-GreenEdge team member.
Tour de France
The main bunch passes by a moutain-side town in the French countryside.
Tour de France
Tour de France spectators, dressed as superheroes Batman and Robin, run alongside riders.
Christian Vande Velde
Christian Vande Velde is treated after a crash during the seventh stage from Montpellier.
Tour de France
Riders stack on top of each other after a crash on a small bridge during stage seven.
Tour de France
The peloton heads through the French countryside.
Tour de France
Riders head off on the 205km seventh stage from Montpellier to Albi.
Peter Sagan
Peter Sagan
Chris Froome
Chris Froome raises his arm after winning stage eight by 51 seconds.
Chris Froome
Team Sky's Chris Froome puts on the yellow jersey after stage eight.
Tour de France
Team Sky riders pass through the French countryside on stage eight.
Tour de France
Team Omega Pharma-Quick Step readers read newspapers before the start of the stage.
Tour de France
Team Sky, led by Richie Porte, make their way up an ascent.
Tour de France 2013
The peleton are cheered on by the crowd during stage nine.
Tour de France 2013
Stage nine winner Dan Martin of the Garmin-Sharp team crosses the finish line.
Tour de France 2013
Riders tackle the Val Louron-Azet pass during stage nine of the Tour de France.
Tour de France 2013
Ride set off for stage nine of the Tour de France.
Geraint Thomas
Team Sky's Geraint Thomas heads out on the 33km individual time trial.
Marcel Kittel
German Marcel Kittel, who won stage 10, relaxes before the start of stage 11.
Chris Froome
Yellow jersey holder Chris Froome races during the individual time trial.
Alberto Contador
Alberto Contador grimaces as he heads to the finish of stage 11.
Tony Martin
German rider Tony Martin climbs on the podium after winning stage 11.
Marcel Kittel
Marcel Kittel (right) beats Mark Cavendish across the line to win stage 12.
Chris Froome
Tour de France spectators hold a sign in support of leader Chris Froome.
Team Sky
Team Sky riders, including yellow jersey holder Chris Froome, lead the peloton.
Brett Lancaster
Brett Lancaster receives assistance from a crew member during the 12th stage.
Arthur Vichot
A banana hangs out of the back pocket of Arthur Vichot.
Daniele Bennati
Daniele Bennati of Team Saxo-Tinkoff gets in aerodynamic position during a descent on stage 13.
Jose Joaquin Rojas
Jose Joaquin Rojas takes a glance back at the chasing bunch.
Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharmac-Quick Step raises his arms as he crosses the line to win stage 13.
Tour de France peloton
The Tour de France peloton head through a village during the 13th stage.
Alberto Contador and Michael Rogers
Alberto Contador (right) and Michael Rogers (left) of Team Saxo-Tinkoff chat with Team Radioshack Leopard's Haimar Zubeldia.
Matteo Trentin
Matteo Trentin reacts as he claims the 14th stage win for Omega Pharma-Quick Step.
Tour de France
The breakaway group passes by a field during the 14th stage.
Tour de France
The Tour de France peloton arrive at a village during stage 14.
Tour de France
The 14th stage breakaway group ride through a feed station.
Arthur Vichot and Luis Angel Mate Mardonnes
Arthur Vichot (right) and Luis Angel Mate Mardonnes attempt to make a breakaway.
Tour de France
The peloton rides past a field of sunflowers during stage 15 of the 2013 Tour de France, a 242.5km road stage from Givors to Mont Ventoux.
Tour de France
Peter Kennaugh of Great Britain and SKY Procycling rides at the front of the peloton during stage 15.
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Yellow jersey holder Chris Froome approaches the finish line to win stage 15.
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Rui Costa of Portugal and Movistar Team tries to launch an attack at the front of the peloton during stage 15.
Chris Froome
Tour leader Chris Froome takes a sip from his water bottle during stage 16.
Rui Costa
Rui Costa's solo break paid off as he claimed the 16th stage.
Rui Costa
Team Movistar's Rui Costa grinds his way up an incline.
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Team Sky lead the peloton during the Tour de France's 16th stage.
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A spectator draws on the road during a mountainous stage.
Chris Froome
Chris Froome powers his way to victory in the 32km individual time trial, the 17th stage.
Mark Cavendish
Briton Mark Cavendish rides over a Union Jack painted on the road.
David Millar
Team Garmin Sharp's David Millar rides past spectators at the top of a climb.
Haimar Zubeldia
Haimar Zubeldia makes his way up a climb as heavy rain falls.
Tour de France spectators
Spectators often turn the Tour de France into a Halloween party.
Nelson Mandela
Tour de France riders wait behind a large picture of former South African president Nelson Mandela on his 95th birthday.
Andy Schleck
Team Radioshack's Andy Schleck speaks with reporters ahead of stage 18.
Chris Froome and Richie Porte
EXTENDING LEAD: Chris Froome gets a pat on the back from team-mate Richie Porte, who supported the Tour leader up the second l'Alpe d'Huez climb on Stage 18.
Christophe Riblon
Christophe Riblon of Team AG2R La Mondiale shows his exhaustion after crossing the line at the top of l'Alpe d'Huez.
Tour de France
The view that greets riders near the top of the l'Alpe d'Huez ascent.
Rui Costa
Rui Costa holds up two fingers as he wins his second stage of the Tour de France.
Alberto Contador
Alberto Contador sprints to the line in stage 19.
Portugal spectator
A spectator holds a Portugal flag with 'Rui Costa' written on it.
Tour de France
Riders in the peloton head up an incline during the 19th stage.
Tour de France
Riders head up two major climbs during the 204km 19th stage.
Jack Bauer
Kiwi Jack Bauer is in agony after falling from his bike into a barbed-wire fence during the 19th stage of the Tour de France.
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Nairo Quintana of Colombia and Movistar Team celebrates winning stage 20.
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Chris Froome celebrates on the podium as he secures the leader's yellow jersey after stage 20.
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The pack of riders cycle during the 125 km stage from Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz.
Tour de France
The pack of riders cycle during the 125 km stage from Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz.
2013 Tour de France
Chris Froome of Great Britain and SKY Procycling ride in the main pack through the streets of Paris.
2013 Tour de France
The main pack rides past the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
2013 Tour de France
The Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees Avenue are illuminated with the colour of Tour de France winner: yellow.
2013 Tour de France
The riders cycle on the banks of the Seine river past the Eiffel Tower on the final stage of the Tour de France.

Chris Froome had his maiden Tour de France title within reach today after the Briton survived the 204.5-km 19th stage and Alberto Contador's camp conceded defeat.

Team Sky rider Froome leads Spaniard Contador by five minutes 11 seconds with two stages left, one being Sunday's parade to the Champs-Elysees.

"It would take a lot for someone to take more than five minutes," Froome told reporters after the stage which was won by Portugal's Rui Costa.

"Having said that, I don't want to be complacent so we have to stay focused and switched on until tomorrow night at least."

As Contador, who earlier this week had marked the stage featuring four demanding climbs as the one where he could overhaul Froome, settled for second place, his Saxo-Tinkoff outfit rode to defend top position in the team standings.

"That was not our objective at the start of the Tour but at some point you have to admit that Chris was just much stronger than anyone else in the race," Saxo-Tinkoff sports director Philippe Mauduit told reporters.

Contador will also need to defend his second overall as only 47 seconds separates him from fifth-placed Joaquim Rodriguez going into tomorrow's 20th stage, a 125-km ride from Annecy featuring six climbs with a summit finish at Semnoz.

Spaniard Rodriguez and Colombian climber Nairo Quintana, who holds the white jersey for the best young rider, finished Friday's stage with Froome and Contador and pose the biggest threat.

They were, however, controlled by Contador's team all day.

"Maybe they were preventing attacks from Movistar (Quintana's team), it was perfect for us," Team Sky sports director Nicolas Portal told reporters.

COSTA CELEBRATING

Costa attacked on the final climb of the stage from Bourg d'Oisans and the Movistar rider pulled far enough clear of his rivals to start celebrating with a kilometre to go.

Germany's Andreas Kloeden was next over the line, 48 seconds behind Costa and Jan Bakelants of Belgium was third after the peloton rode through thunderstorms in the finale.

It was Costa's second stage win after the Portuguese had taken another solo victory in Gap on Tuesday.

"I'm in great form, I knew I had to be in the breakaway but I did not have victory in mind," he told a news conference.

Last year's Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal of Canada went solo from an early breakaway group before being joined by France's Pierre Rolland five kilometres from the top of the Col de la Madeleine.

It proved too much of an effort for the Garmin-Sharp rider, who let Rolland ride away as the sky darkened with threatening clouds.

Just as the rain started to pour, Costa picked up Rolland and left him behind, riding solo with the lights of the motorbike brightening up his pedalling legs.

French champion Arthur Vichot crashed heavily in the descent but got back on his bike while German Marcus Sieberg left the race after also hitting the tarmac.

The 18 previous days of racing took their toll as Kris Boeckmans and Christophe Le Mevel pulled out midway through the stage.

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Rui Costa
TWO TIMES: Rui Costa of Portugal holds up two fingers as he wins his second stage of the Tour de France.

Reuters