Olympic road race champion Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) saw his last realistic opportunity to win a stage at this year's Tour de France disappear up the road on stage 17 when Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) attacked just before the final climb of the Col de la Sentinelle.
Van Avermaet, like the rest of the 30-plus strong break, were unable to go with the Italian when he attacked with 14km to go and duly took the victory in Gap to bring his team's tally in this year's race to four stage wins. Kasper Asgreen went after Trentin on the final climb but was forced to accept second place, while Van Avermaet's consolation came with third in the bunch sprint.
With three back-to-back stages in the Alps and then the sprint finish on the Champs Elysees to come, stage 17 was the final chance for the opportunists to win a stage.
Van Avermaet, who has been inside the top-10 on five occasions in the race before Wednesday's stage had earmarked the road to Gap as his final chance of winning. He made the break but admitted after the stage that he was simply beaten by better climbers on the day.
"I think that I did everything right, going with the right moves and at the right moments. On the climb, I was on the limit so I have to say that the others were stronger. Winning was impossible but I just tried to get the maximum out of it," he told reporters on the finish line.
"It was good to be in the break with my teammate Michael Schar. I was on the right wheels but on the last climb, it was about the legs. I was strong but I wasn't strong enough to take the victory."
This Tour has encapsulated Van Avermeat's season. The 34-year-old has been consistent throughout the race but lacked the final bit of quality to turn a placing into a win. The margins have been small and although he admitted that his chances had dried up the team would still be looking win their maiden Tour stage win during the final days of racing.
"I don't think there are more chances for me. With Simon and Serge, we can do something in the mountains but for me, this stage was really important. I was really happy to be in the break and I tried to do as well as possible. I didn't make any tactical mistakes, which was good, but in the end, there were just some guys stronger than me."