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Froome wins stage, extends lead at Tour de France

July 14, 2013 -- Updated 2003 GMT (0403 HKT)
On Bastille Day, Chris Froome beat his main rivals to increase his lead at the Tour de France.
On Bastille Day, Chris Froome beat his main rivals to increase his lead at the Tour de France.
  • Chris Froome wins the 15th stage of the Tour de France in a summit finish
  • Froome passed young Colombian Nairo Quintana on the steep climb to the top
  • Froome now leads Bauke Mollema and Alberto Contador by more than four minutes

(CNN) -- Chris Froome conquered Mont Ventoux at the Tour de France to extend his overall lead with a week remaining in cycling's most prestigious race.

In a fascinating battle Sunday, Team Sky's Froome caught and then passed Nairo Quintana during the steep 13-mile climb to give him a four-minute cushion over his nearest rivals.

A spent Froome had to be given oxygen when the 15th stage -- the longest of this year's Tour at 150 miles -- ended but he'll get a chance to recover during Monday's day off.

On Bastille Day French hopes were dashed, as Sylvain Chavanel lost his lead to Movistar's Quintana before the Colombian faded and Froome charged.

"I thought he'd be less strong than he was," Quintana told the Tour's website.

Froome has now won both stages with summit finishes.

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"I didn't expect to win," Britain's Froome said after nearly six hours of racing. "I wanted to get more of a buffer on the general classification but I didn't think I could go for the win.

"Quintana is a very strong climber and I wasn't expecting him to go from as far as he did but hats off to him. He did a great ride and he showed how strong he is."

Despite the gruelling end to the stage, Froome and Quintana -- one to watch for the future -- had time for a quick chat.

"In the last (1.2 miles) he was fading a little and I still had a little bit left," said Froome. "I was just trying to say, 'Man, come on just a little bit more, we're almost there.' But he was slipping behind.

"Near the end I don't think that I attacked. It was just that he couldn't ride on my wheel anymore and a gap opened up."

On Friday, Froome saw his lead cut to under three minutes by Belkin's Bauke Mollema and Saxo-Tinkoff's Alberto Contador.

After Sunday, though, he leads Mollema by four minutes, 14 seconds and two-time winner Contador by 4:25.

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