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Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)
Dane holds 7th in advance of Tour's final mountain stage
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) produced another consistent performance in the mountains of the Tour de France on Friday's stage to Le Grand Bornand to help cement his place in the top ten. With two days of racing - one of them a final pass through the Alps - to come, the Dane sits in seventh place, 9:33 down on race leader Chris Froome (Sky).
Fuglsang has been talked about as a rider of GC potential in Grand Tours since his early steps as a road rider. Since moving over from mountain biking, where he was U23 world champion in 2007, he has displayed, albeit in fits and flashes, the ability to climb and time trial with the best.
Sixth in the 2009 Dauphine was followed by 11th at the Vuelta, riding under the Schlecks' shadow, however. A disruptive year spent under Johan Bruyneel's tutelage in 2012 meant that this season was always going to be pivotal in the 28-year-old's career.
"Of course it's been a good race for me and I'm still feeling, not fresh that would be wrong, but I still don't feel like I'm worn out. It's been a good race so far," he told Cyclingnews after stage 19.
The stage itself saw Fuglsang maintain his seventh place overall. He followed and was amongst the best climbers in the race when he formed a crack group on the Col de la Croix and with one difficult mountain stage to come looks on course for his best ever finish in a three-week race.
At this point in the race most riders with GC aspirations have one eye looking over their shoulder and defence is the name of the game as they look to solidify their Paris placings. With Fuglsang still feeling frisky, sixth is not out of the question. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) survived today but lost time on stage 18 due to illness.
"It was hard and wet in the end but overall it was a good day. I was trying and hoping that I could take some more time on Mollema today but it didn't work out. It is how it is but maybe we'll see tomorrow if there's a possibility, otherwise it's going to stay like it is," he added.
"Mollema could be a possibility for me to move further up, but I maybe also have to pay attention to Daniel Navarro, although he may not climb better than me. He made a big jump today, also Valverde but for the rest, we'll have to see how it goes tomorrow, but I will try if the possibility is there."