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Thomas tightens Tour grip

LARUNS, France (AFP) – Britain’s Geraint Thomas stretched his Tour de France yellow jersey lead on Friday as Slovenian Primoz Roglic won the 19th stage in controversial fashion to push defending champion Chris Froome off the virtual podium.

Thomas, who has held the race lead since stage 11 having won back-to-back stages in the Alps, finished second on the final stage in the high mountains at 19secs behind Roglic after the Lotto-Jumbo rider had launched a series of small attacks before the summit of the Aubisque.

The Welshman’s final sprint to clinch second place earned him six bonus seconds, which increased his overall lead on Dutch rival Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) to 2min 05secs ahead of the penultimate-stage time trial on Saturday.

Roglic moved up to third overall at 2:24 behind Thomas, with Froome now fourth at 2:37.

But while the 28-year-old Slovenian celebrated, Dumoulin was furious at the finish, claiming Roglic “used the slipstream of the motorbike” that had moved in front of him shortly after the summit to build an advantage which, in the end, proved decisive.

Asked to confirm the allegation, Roglic said: “What can I say? I can’t comment on things on which I don’t have influence over. I don’t see where the problem is.’’

Roglic, a former ski jumper, was a constant thorn in the side of Team Sky on the final climb, where his accelerations left four-time champion Froome struggling to hold the wheel on several occasions.

The Slovenian redoubled his efforts shortly after cresting the summit, defying the shrouds of mist to accelerate away from Thomas, Froome, Dumoulin, Spaniard Mikel Landa and Frenchman Romain Bardet to leave them in a desperate chase on the 20 km descent to the finish.