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By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Chris Froome
There will be only 33 miles of time-trialing in 2014 — all on a penultimate stage through foie gras country in southwest France on July 26. That is the smallest time-trial total since the specialist discipline was introduced at the 1934 Tour.
Froome rode into Paris in style — in the yellow race leader's jersey he took on Stage 8 and never relinquished, vigorously fending off rivals whose concerted challenges turned this Tour into a thriller.
Only an accident or other freak mishap on Sunday's largely ceremonial final ride to Paris could stop Froome from winning the 100th Tour, a year after Bradley Wiggins won the 99th.
German veteran Andreas Kloeden was second, 46 seconds behind, and Belgian Jan Bakelants was 1:44 back in third. Leader Chris Froome and his main Tour rival Alberto Contador finished together several minutes behind Costa.
Riblon caught American Tejay van Garderen near the end of the final climb to win the 18th stage of the Tour de France, while Chris Froome extended his overall lead despite a late struggle.
Froome was slower than Alberto Contador on the first part of the undulating 20-mile course from Embrun to Chorges in the French Alps on Wednesday. But he gained time on the final section and finished nine seconds ahead of the Spaniard.
Costa secured the second stage win of his Tour career, crossing the line about 40 seconds ahead of Frenchman Christophe Riblon.
The 28-year-old Froome's physical superiority at the 100th Tour has raised eyebrows, practically inevitable in the climate of suspicion that haunts cycling after Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven titles for serial doping.
British rider Chris Froome showed why he remains the overwhelming Tour de France favorite by winning Sunday's grueling 15th stage up to Mont Ventoux to extend his lead over main rival Alberto Contador.
Italian cyclist Matteo Trentin won Saturday's hilly 14th stage of the Tour de France in a perfectly-timed sprint finish, while race leader Chris Froome preserved his overall lead after staying safely in the main pack.
Wily Tour de France riders who used the wind and worked together to trap their rivals turned a trek across the flats of central France into a thriller on Friday, as exciting and, for the most unfortunate, as decisive as any spectacular day in the mountains.
Germany's Marcel Kittel overtook Mark Cavendish at the line Thursday to win the 12th stage of the Tour de France, and Chris Froome avoided a late crash in the main pack to preserve his big lead.
German rider Tony Martin won the 11th stage of the Tour de France and second-placed Chris Froome finished way ahead of his main rivals to significantly improve his overall lead on Wednesday.
Germany's Marcel Kittel won Tuesday's 10th stage of the Tour de France in a sprint finish and Chris Froome stayed out of trouble to keep the leader's yellow jersey.
Given the way Chris Froome is riding, he could take a big step toward winning the Tour de France on Wednesday.
Froome said he expects the "first real battle" that day between the Tour favorites.
"You can just imagine what the time gaps are going to be like on a 54-kilometer time trial. That could be quite substantial," Froome said.