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The Boston Globe

Sports

Chris Froome closes in on Tour de France win

LE GRAND-BORNAND, France — 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.

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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.’’

Contador is 5:11 behind and has only Saturday’s final mountain stage in which to do that, since Sunday’s 21st and last stage is largely processional.

Realistically, only an improbable slump — make that impossible, given how he’s been riding so far — will stop the 28-year-old from matching countryman Bradley Wiggins’s success last year.

Costa secured his second stage win of the race, and third of his career, after catching Frenchman Pierre Roland about a quarter of the way up the final major ascent of Col de la Croix Fry.

German veteran Andreas Kloeden was second and Belgian Jan Bakelants was third.

Saturday’s 20th stage goes 78 miles from Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz.

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