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Fri Apr 25 10:13:27 SAST 2014

Wiggins closer to victory after last mountain stage

Sapa-AFP | 20 July, 2012 05:580 Comments
Movistar Team rider Alejandro Valverde of Spain celebrates winning the 17th stage of the Tour de France

SPAIN'S Alejandro Valverde claimed a stylish solo victory in the 17th stage of the Tour de France after a frantic finish to the final day in the mountains yesterday.

It was the Movistar rider's fourth career victory in the race, and his first since 2008.

Race leader Bradley Wiggins came over the finish line of the 143.5km stage between Bagneres-de-Luchon and Peyragudes on the wheel of Sky teammate Chris Froome around 18 seconds later.

The pair had led a frantic chase of Valverde on the day's fifth and last climb, but Valverde, who had broken away from an early escape group on the Col de Peyresourde, dug deep to hold off the British pair.

Froome's pace, however, did some more damage to Wiggins' yellow jersey rivals, with Italian Vincenzo Nibali trailing home a further 18 seconds adrift.

Defending champion Cadel Evans, who lost nearly five minutes to Wiggins on Wednesday's 16th stage, to drop to seventh overall, lost more time after struggling to hold the pace.

Wiggins will go into today's 18th stage from Blagnac to Brive-La-Gaillarde with his 2:05 lead on Froome intact.

The 19th and penultimate stage tomorrow is a 53.5km time trial, in which Wiggins and Froome, who were first and second in the stage nine time trial, are expected to excel.

The race finishes in Paris on Sunday.

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Wiggins closer to victory after last mountain stage

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