Romain Bardet won stage 19 of the Tour de France on Friday, also gaining valuable time in the general classification, while Chris Froome escaped disaster after falling off his bike.
Persistent rain resulted in several crashes during the 146km ride from Albertville to Saint-Gervais-les-Bains – including yellow jersey holder Chris Froome and his closest GC challenger Bauke Mollema – but Bardet was able to avoid any trouble and claim a first stage win for France in this year's race.
The Ag2r La Mondiale rider safely negotiated the slippery descent to Domancy before catching Rui Costa, who was leading out of the early break, and riding all the way to a solo victory.
That allowed the 26-year-old to move up from fifth to second overall.
Froome, meanwhile, crashed on the final descent but quickly commandeered a team-mate's bike and was able to limit the damage to just eight seconds lost.
Mollema was less fortunate. Starting the day in second place overall, the Trek – Segafredo rider lost more than four minutes after going off the road on the same descent and dropped all the way down to 10th place overall.
“It’s ironic, really, I was trying to stay up front, trying to stay safe. I think I hit one of the white lines on the road,” Froome said. “I’m lucky nothing was seriously injured — just lost some skin and banged my knee a bit.”
Saturday will see the race take in its final mountain stage, 146.5km from Megève to Morzine over four categorized climbs, before the Tour ends Sunday in Paris.
“Tomorrow’s going to be hard. Tomorrow’s going to be really hard,” Froome added. “Just one last push to get through tomorrow’s stage.”
Stage 19 results
1. Romain Bardet (AG2R LA MONDIALE) in 4:14:08
2. Joaquin Rodriguez (TEAM KATUSHA) at :23
3. Alejandro Valverde (MOVISTAR TEAM) at :23
4. Louis Meintjes (LAMPRE – MERIDA) at :23
5. Nairo Quintana (MOVISTAR TEAM) at :26
6. Fabio Aru (ASTANA PRO TEAM) at :28
7. Daniel Martin (ETIXX – QUICK STEP) at :28
8. Wout Poels (TEAM SKY) at :36
9. Christopher Froome (TEAM SKY) at :36
10. Richie Porte (BMC RACING TEAM) at :53
General classification after stage 19
1. Christopher Froome (TEAM SKY) in 82:10:37
2. Romain Bardet (AG2R LA MONDIALE) at 4:11
3. Nairo Quintana (MOVISTAR TEAM) at 4:27
4. Adam Yates (ORICA-BIKEEXCHANGE) at 4:36
5. Richie Porte (BMC RACING TEAM) at 5:17
6. Fabio Aru (ASTANA PRO TEAM) at 6:00
7. Alejandro Valverde (MOVISTAR TEAM) at 6:20
8. Louis Meintjes (LAMPRE – MERIDA) at 7:02
9. Daniel Martin (ETIXX – QUICK STEP) at 7:10
10. Bauke Mollema (TREK – SEGAFREDO) at 7:42