Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) looked a bit like a cage fighter when he crossed the finish line of stage 17 of the Tour de France with blood dripping from his mouth and knee, but the 30-year-old considered his sixth place on the stage behind race leader and stage winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) a victory.
The Dutchman held onto his sixth place in the overall standings and gained some time on his rivals despite sliding out on the descent from the Col de Val Louron-Azet just before the final push to the top of the Col du Portet.
"In the last corner of the final descent, I went wide and crashed. I thought I was going to make it, I was able to hold on with one leg on the gravel but my front wheel was blocked, so I tumbled and landed almost flat on my face," Kelderman said after the stage.
"It wasn't very nice, just before the last climb. It's a pity, my legs were good and I was a bit interrupted. Emu [Buchmann] was with me and helped me reach the GC group again just when the final climb started."
Kelderman made the group with the rest of the top 10 overall, led by Pogačar, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo), Ben O'Connor (AG2R-Citroën). He lasted longer in the group than the rest - Enric Mas (Movistar), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious).
He ultimately had to let go when Pogačar began attacking but gained time on all but Pogačar, Vingegaard, Carapaz and O'Connor, ending the day 8:06 behind Pogačar in the standings but within one minute of Urán's fourth place.
"I would say it was a good day, I held on to my position, and tomorrow will be another hard day where I will, hopefully, be able to battle for a better spot," Kelderman said.
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